Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

2014 Reading Challenges – Part 1

I have going to try to cut back a little bit on Reading Challenges in 2014. Since Great Escapes Book Tours is really taking off I doubt I will be able to read 200 books. With this in mind my first challenge will be the
YOU READ HOW MANY BOOKS CHALLENGE
2014RC-hosting U Read How Many-
This year’s host is Gina @ Book Dragon’s Lair

  1. Read, read, read!
  2. There are several levels to choose from
    Level 1: 100 minimum
    Level 2: 150 at least
    Level 3: 200 or more
  3. You may move up a level but not down
  4. You don’t need a blog to participate. As long as wherever you link to is public so we can check out your books read.
  5. Reviews are not necessary (but there will be a post so you can link up) but a list of books read is. 
  6. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
  7. Books allowed: Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.
  8. Individual short stories in a collection or individual books in the Bible do not count
  9. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.
  10. Challenge begins January 1st, 2014 thru December 31, 2014. Books started before the 1st do not count. You can join at anytime.
  11. Please sign up with a direct link so the rest of us can find your list of books read.

I am signing up at Level 2 – at least 150 books.

****************

I have really enjoyed by Kindle Fire so the next challenge is
2014 Ebook Reading Challenge.

2014Ebook-2

Reading Challenge Details:

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014.
  2. Anyone can join, you don’t need to be a blogger. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can plan your books in advance or as you read them.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.

Levels:

  1. Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
  2. CD – 10 ebooks
  3. DVD – 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick – 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive – 75 ebooks
  6. Server – 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain – 150 ebooks
At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. The linky will remain open for the remainder of the year, so if you forget, feel free go back and add them when you remember.

This reading challenge is hosted by Workaday Reads. For more information and to sign-up, please see this post.

I am signing up at the DVD Level with hopes to move up to Memory Stick 🙂
****************

You know I LOVE COZIES so I have to sign up for Yvonne’s

2014 Cruisin’ thru the Cozies

cruisin2

Welcome to the fourth annual Cruisin’ thru the Cozies Reading Challenge! I’m still loving the cozies and this is one of the few challenges I plan to continue hosting.

To find out exactly what a cozy mystery is, check out Cozy-Mystery.com. This site is dedicated to cozy mysteries and does a great job of defining them as well as giving a list of cozy mysteries. This challenge is NOT restricted to what is on their list, it’s just to be used as a guideline in case you need some hints on what to read.

So, here are the rules…

1. Choose the level you wish to participate:
Level 1 – Snoop – Read at least 6 books
Level 2 – Investigator – Read 7-12 books
Level 3 – Super Sleuth – Read 13 or more books

****AMENDED: LEVEL 3 – SUPER SLEUTH – READ 13-20 BOOKS

LEVEL 4 – Sleuth Extraordinaire – Read 20 or more

2. The challenge runs from January 1, 2014 and ends December 31, 2014.

3. You don’t have to choose your books in advance. If you do, you can change your list at any time during the year. Books can overlap with other challenges.

4. Books can be in any format – paper, audio, ebooks…it all counts!

5. You don’t have to post a review, but I’m sure others would love to know about the books you are reading and may even want to add it to their reading lists.

NOTE: If you don’t have a blog and want to participate, that’s fine. You don’t have to have a blog, just post in the comments section as you finish books. If you belong to a site like Goodreads and review the books there, that’s fine too. Just leave us the link.  I also have a group for this challenge on Goodreads and you can sign up by clicking here.

6. Take the button above, put it on your blog and post about the challenge. Then add your name to Mr. Linky here. Please use the link of your challenge post, not the link to your home page.

7. I’m going to have one link for signing up, one link for completed reviews and one link for your wrap up posts. I won’t be having a monthly link, just one for all reviews read for this challenge.

This reading challenge is hosted by Socrates’ Book Review Blog. For more information and to sign-up, please see this post.

I am signing up at LEVEL 4 – Sleuth Extraordinaire – Read 20 or more
Changed 12/26/2013
*******************
That’s all for today.
I will be keeping track of all my Challenges here
or just click on the Challenges tab at the top of my blog.
I will also keep track in my sidebar with Progress Bars.
I have found the easiest way to create Progress Bars is using Nanowrimo Word Meter.

If you are looking for more Challenges
A Novel Challenge
has a great list!

 Part 2 – Coming Soon!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
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Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Literary Escapes Reviews 2013 What An Animal Reading Challenge

Review: Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly

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Cat Trick:
A Magical Cats Mystery

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (February 5, 2013)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451414694
E-Book File Size: 539 KB
ASIN: B008H7KGC0

Cat Trick (Magical Cats, #4)

Kathleen Paulson enjoys her life as a small-town librarian with two extraordinary cats, Owen and Hercules, who provide companionship during the quiet times and have a remarkable talent for sleuthing when murder disturbs the peace….

Mike Glazer comes back to his hometown of Mayville Heights as the representative of Legacy Tours, a Chicago based firm the local businesses are hoping to convince set up a vacation destination package for the town. He is not the same guy they remember, he has become a real loudmouth and it isn’t long before someone shuts him up for good.

When Kathleen or should I say Hercules finds the body on the boardwalk she just can’t help but get involved in the investigation. Her boyfriend, Detective Marcus Gordon, has begged her to leave the investigation to him but Kathleen with a little help from Hercules and Owen is determined to book the killer for an “extended stay in prison before someone else takes a permanent vacation”.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Match two magical kitties with a extremely inquisitive librarian and a murder or two and you have all the makings of an extraordinary mystery series.

Kathleen’s contract in Mayville Heights is almost up and she will have to make a big decision whether to stay or go back to Boston where her family lives. Until then she has plenty to keep her busy both at the library and with yet another murder. This time the clues are hard to come by and the “gossip grapevine” is working overtime. It is the cats that literally dig up the clues needed to solve this puzzler. Hopefully Kathleen stepping on the good detective’s toes doesn’t stall their romance. Roma and Maggie would be devastated.

Sofie Kelly has created a very identifiable cast of characters, human and feline. You know we all talk to our cats and her “catversations” are real and true and at times hilarious. I absolutely love Owen and Hercules. It doesn’t hurt that I have their twins living with me. I have not noticed that mine have a magical powers yet but there’s still hope. Kathleen is surrounded by a wonderful group of friends and I know she will realize that no matter home homesick she is for her family Mayville Heights is now her home.

A captivating cozy! Curl up with it, your favorite kitty, and enjoy!!

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Sofie Kelly on her webpage here.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Reviews 2013

Review: Every Trick in the Book by Lucy Arlington

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Every Trick in the Book
(A Novel Idea Mystery)

2nd In Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Julia Green
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425251676
E-Book File Size: 680 KB
ASIN: B0095ZMFW2

Every Trick in the Book (A Novel Idea Mystery, #2)

You have heard it said that all of us has a twin somewhere out there. What would you do if you came face to face with yours? and then they end up murdered! at an event you have helped organize!!

That’s what happens to Lila Wilkens in this second installment of the Novel Idea Mysteries. She has helped organize the Book and Author Festival and she was hoping to discover some talented new authors but she never imagined there would be one dead body and then another. Lila finds herself hunting down another killer and the clues that bring everything together are found in a very familiar place for this new literary agent. Can she catch the culprit before she is written out of the story?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
There is so much to love about this story!

A behind the scenes glimpse at book publishing from the agents point of view set in an enchanting place. Inspiration Valley, North Carolina –  sounds like a perfect escape for me. I would never want to come back. Lila’s job would delight me as well.

The author has her hands full because she is not only writing the plot and sub-plots, she also has to come up with snippets of manuscripts and proposals for stories so that Lila can do her job. She does this with a precision that makes them all blend together and flow seamlessly for the reader. A lot happens in this story but it happens so naturally that before you know it you are on the last page and sad to have the story end.

The characters are superb and Lila’s new hire could prove to very interesting in the next editions. The rest of the agents at Novel Idea Literary are starting to gel. Lila’s son Trey’s path is changing. Lila is getting settled in her cottage after a little moving day drama and her relationship with Sean, the policeman, is moving forward even as he wishes she would just stay out of his cases.

I am excited for the next story, Books, Cooks and Crooks to be released in December. I am sure Lila will find “in the soup” again and I will devour every word.

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
Lucy Arlington is the nom de plume for the writing team of Ellery Adams and Sylvia May, two friends who collaborated on an idea that became A Novel Idea Mystery Series. Both are authors in their own right; Ellery writes cozy mysteries and Sylvia women’s fiction.

Ellery Adams currently writes the Books by the Bay Mysteries and the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries. To learn more about Ellery and her books, visit her website at www.elleryadamsmysteries.com.

Sylvia May’s first novel, The Unraveling of Abby Settel, received an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Reader Views Literary Awards. To learn more about Sylvia and her novel, visit her website at www.sylviamay.com.

Find out more at http://lucyarlington.com/

I want to thank the authors and the people at Berkley Prime Crime! Escape With Dollycas Into A New Book is quoted on the Praise page for Every Trick In The Book. Thank you so much!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Literary Escapes Reviews 2013 What An Animal Reading Challenge

Review: Out of Circulation by Miranda James

Out Of Circulation

Out of Circulation (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)
4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (January 29, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425257272
E-Book File Size: 580 KB
ASIN: B0095ZP1AU
Cover Illustration by Dan Craig
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell

Out of Circulation (Cat in the Stacks Mystery, #4)

Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel. He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books.

Charlie has found himself on the committee to plan this year’s library fundraiser gala. Mainly that means staying out of the way as barbs fly between Vera Cassity and Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote. It seems no one really cares for Vera, even Charlie’s housekeeper, Azalea, seems to have it out for her. At the gala Charlie starts to understand why. Apparently no one ever taught Vera that “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” She had a verbal jab for almost everyone that night. And these bitter words happened to be her last. Yes, while Vera was not the life of the party her death turned the party upside down.  She was found dead and Azalea was standing over her body. Charlie knows there is much more to the story so with a bit of help from his sidekick Diesel he sets out to catch the killer before his last chapter is finished.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This 4th installment is the best one so far. The female characters are the shining stars this time. Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce are wonderful characters. Full of Southern charm and feisty. These are not women to mess with. We get to know Azalea better in this story too, a little blast from her past. She is another strong opinionated woman and I loved her speaking out – finally. Her daughter, Kanesha,  gets her spunk from her mother. I see her taking over that police force in the near future. 

James writes fun and entertaining mysteries with characters fleshed out making them real and identifiable. Writing strong women that have to relate with each other and relate to the reader can be a difficult task especially when the protagonist is a male. The author, yes also a male,  has become a master with this latest story. 

I will admit it. I absolutely love Diesel!! He is such a special cat that is tuned in to the humans around him. His meows, warbles, chirrups, and head bumps are priceless. No magical powers just a real cat acting like a cat. I live with one that could be Diesel’s brother who looks and acts exactly the same way. 

All of these characters are part of a terrific mystery with a very important and surprising twist.  Cozy readers will love this story!!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Miranda James on her webpage here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted in Cozy Wednesday Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2013 What An Animal Reading Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Author Linda O. Johnston (Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!

So happy to welcome Linda back to Cozy Wednesday!!!!

Hi Linda!

Hi Everyone!

Inspirations are Everywhere…

LOJPublicityPhotoWriters get their inspirations in all sorts of ways, but this is the first time I think I ever got one of mine because of driving frequently by a certain spot in my neighborhood.

I live in the Hollywood Hills. I love animals, especially dogs, and have a great deal of fun writing my Pet Rescue Mystery series.

One day a while ago, as I drove along Ventura Boulevard near my home, I spotted a new sign outside a building that might previously have been vacant. It indicated that the American Humane Association had moved in there. Since I drive past that area often, I kept seeing that sign… and it inspired the topic of my new Pet Rescue Mystery:Oodles of Poodles.

For, yes, I dropped in one day and began talking to people and learning what American Humane is about–a wonderful group.

Oodles of Poodles takes place in the film industry, very appropriate for a series centered around a no-kill pet shelter in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. It’s sort of a story within a story, since it’s about a movie being filmed about rescued poodles, starring– you’ve got it!–rescued poodles!

oodles of poodlesMy protagonist Lauren Vancouver, who’s the chief administrator of the HotRescues shelter, gets involved because of those cherished and adorable poodles. She’s also involved because one of the film’s co-producers is Dante DeFrancisco, the generous benefactor of HotRescues. Lauren finds herself visiting the film sets often on his behalf–and also to observe how the dogs are being treated. Also present is a Certified Animal Safety Representative™ of the American Humane Association, which is the only group that can provide the coveted “No Animals Were Harmed”® designation–their registered trademark.

One night the director, who had been endangering the poodles during the filming, is run over by a car. Murdered. The chief suspect is Lauren’s good friend, veterinarian and TV personality Dr. Carlie Stellan. Of course Lauren has to find the real murderer and solve the crime to help Carlie… and the dogs.

Oodles of Poodles was a lot of fun to research. I got to communicate with people within American Humane and learn about their work with films and scripted TV shows that include animals.

It was fun to write, particularly since it involved lots of dogs in unique situations–as well as utilizing Lauren’s amateur sleuthing abilities.

And these days, when I attend a movie where animals are included in the cast, I always wait till the very end of the credits to look for that very treasured certification that “No Animals Were Harmed.”

Where do your inspirations come from? Are they everywhere around you?

~Linda

Thank you so much Linda for visiting today!!!

Here’s my review!

oodles of poodles

Oodles of Poodles
(A Pet Rescue Mystery)

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425259962
E-Book File Size: 594 KB
ASIN: B0095ZPZJ2
Cover Illustration by Jennifer Taylor/Paperdog Studios
Cover Design by Rita Frangie

Oodles of Poodles

Lauren is on hand to observe a movie that stars oodles of poodles, a movie about rescued poodles no less. Also on hand are Lauren’s friend, veterinarian Carlie Stellan and Grant, a handsome representative from the American Humane Association. They are all there to insure no animals are hurt or in danger during the movie production.

Unfortunately the movie’s director didn’t have anyone protecting him. He was killed in a very suspicious hit and run accident after arguing with several people about animal safety. Carlie was one of the more outspoken people speaking up for the animal and that lands her in the hot seat as a prime suspect. Lauren start to search through the oodles of clues to try to save her friend and catch a killer before someone else is put out of the picture.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I love this series because the author takes on real things that happen with animals and builds her intriguing mysteries around that issue. I have wondered for years about animals on television and movies and will now look for the “No Animals Harmed” tagline.

Lauren really does step in “it” in this installment, so much so that a few of the members of the production crew really don’t even want to be around her. She was clearly stumped by this mystery until the clues started to come together. I like that in a story – when the protagonist struggles with the evidence and suspects – and things don’t just magically fall into place. The struggles with Matt and Lauren’s relationship scare me a bit. Is their relationship strong enough to weather the ebbs and flows of the life that keep getting thrown at them?

Great Characters – Great Animals – Great Setting – Great Plot – Great Cozy Mystery!!!’

a perfect escape 5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Linda O. Johnston, her books and Pet Rescue on her webpage here.

Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Linda for 5 Bonus Entries!
Answer Her Question:
Where do your inspirations come from? Are they everywhere around you?

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Reviews 2013

Review: It Takes Two To Strangle by Stephen Kaminski

two to strangle

It Takes Two to Strangle:
A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery

First In Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by Cozy Cat Press (September 26, 2012)
Trade Paperback: 230 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0988194311
E-Book File Size: 389 KB
ASIN: B009F0TE0I

It Takes Two to Strangle

The carnival has come to Hollydale and as head of the citizen’s association Damon Lassard is the local liaison to make sure that event goes off without a hitch. When one of the owners of the carnival is found dead with two separate and different ligature marks Damon steps in to help his friend Detective Gerry Sloman solve the case and catch the killers.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This was an interesting debut with quite a few red herrings.

Damon just can’t help himself, he gets right into the middle of the investigation. Detective Sloman gives him an inch and he takes a mile and gets himself in a couple of dicey situations. He is also a very typical man when it comes to women, thankfully his mother is around to point out things that are clear to everyone except Damon himself. Kaminski has written some very likable characters.

The mystery is complex with plenty of suspects and I must say I was surprised by one of the culprits. He was totally off my radar until the evidence was spelled right out for me.

I will be looking forward to more adventures with Damon Lassard and Detective Gerry Sloman. Damon needs Gerry to save him from himself and the criminals.

just you and a friend
4 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of It Takes Two to Strangle, the first book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. Stephen has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cozy Wednesday Cruisin Thru Cozies Finish The Series Challenge Giveaways Guest Posts It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Reviews 2013

Cozy Wednesday with Author Mary Daheim (Fantastic Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I know I have been gushing for weeks and the day is finally here. Mary Daheim author of the Alpine Mystery Series and the Bed and Breakfast Mysteries is my guest today. Her stories were some of the first mysteries I read after my accident, before I even knew what a cozy mystery was. I have always been a fan of mysteries and thrillers and a friend thought I would enjoy the calmer tone of a cozy as I recovered. She came to my room with a stack of Mary’s books. One of the first books I held after my left hand started working again was The Alpine Advocate and I was hooked. If you would have told me then I would be able to converse with famous authors on a daily basis like I can today I would have told you that you were crazy! Loving technology!!

Welcome Mary!!

Hi Everyone!!

Mary with her granddaughter Maisy
Mary with her granddaughter Maisy

                              CHARACTERS:

            OUT OF CONTROL & NAMING NAMES

 

Why do characters in books do what they do?

They do as they please. Most writers insist that once characters are created, they take on a life of their own. I’ll vouch for that. Nowhere is it more evident than in my Emma Lord/Alpine series. What makes it even harder to deal with my often perverse protagonist is that I gave her a first person narrative. We see everything that happens through Emma’s eyes and her vision is often impaired, especially when it comes to love.

alpine xanaduWhen I’m writing a book in that series, Emma and everybody else must act in a way that’s true to character. That’s not to say that these people don’t change over time—they do, Emma included. But over the years, she’s often driven me nuts. There’s nothing I can do about it, no more than I can in real life when someone is pigheadedly making a big mistake. I keep my mouth shut in the real world and in fiction I refrain from interfering via the keyboard.

It’s somewhat different with the B&B series. Having based the protagonist and her sidekick on my cousin Judy and me, I know how these two will react. I should clear up one misconception about Judith: She is not me. I’m the not-quite-as-kind Renie. I was named for my grandmothers, Mary and Serena. But Serena was always known as Rene (one syllable, rhymes with mean). Thus, my parents named me Mary Rene. Within the family, I’ve always been called Renie (rhymes with meanie). In more formal situations I was Mary Rene.

When I started grade school, I had a problem being Mary Rene Richardson. We were required to print our full names on one line at the top of the page. I’ve always had big handwriting (or printing, back then). I couldn’t get all those letters on one line. So I dropped the Rene. It’s a good thing I had practical and understanding parents. To this day, I still think of myself as Mary Rene, though most people call me Mary.

Which brings me back to Emma. By coincidence, I have an earlier Civil War historical romance I wrote in 1985 called Pride’s Captive that’s being re-released February first with a new title, Reunion. The heroine is named Serena and her goal is to become a journalist.  I really can’t remember if I thought much about that coincidence when I chose a name for my Alpine protagonist. I’ve always liked my paternal grandmother’s names of Emma Serena, so I decided to go with the other half of her name. In 1991 when I started the Alpine series I didn’t know many Emmas in real life. Now it’s one of the most popular names for baby girls. I take no credit for this, of course, but it does make me smile. The name means “universal or all-containing.” Maybe that suits a journalist–but that isn’t why I chose it.

the wurst is yet to comeAs for the B&Bs, Judith and Renie aren’t exact duplicates of their real-life counterparts. I wouldn’t want Judy suing me and I’m not sure how I could go about suing myself. In fact, many of the characters in the B&B books are based on family members, though some are composites. So far, none of them have threatened to sue me. Yet.

And yes—Gertrude and Aunt Deb are based on Judy’s mother and my mother. Though they were sisters in real life, they’re sisters-in-law in the books. I’m often asked if the real Gertrude is or was as ornery as she appears in the books. My answer is–not quite. My Aunt Kate had a sharp tongue and was very opinionated. She also had a wonderful sense of humor and a good heart.

Aunt Deb displays my mother’s martyr complex, if somewhat exaggerated. But Mom was very protective and demanded a lot of attention from her only child—just as Aunt Kate did with Judy. Mom was very smart and loved to laugh. She and my aunt would get into arguments over the phone, with Aunt Kate usually hanging up on Mom, who would then announce that her sister was an idiot. Judy tells me Aunt Kate would say the same thing about my mother.

For some reason, I’m thinking back to the night Aunt Kate died (well into her 90s) and of a comeback from Judy that will never make it into a book: Her mother had been hospitalized for a fairly minor problem. Around 8:30 one evening, Judy called to tell me her mother had died. Could my husband Dave and I meet her at the hospital? Of course we could. We arrived a few minutes ahead of Judy and we were talking to the nurse. The first question from Judy (a nurse in real life) was why her mother had died so suddenly. The nurse told Judy they Hi Everyone!! know what to put down as cause of death.

Judy looked at the nurse with a straight face and said, “I think we can rule out foul play.”

Sometimes life imitates art. Or is it the other way around?

~Mary

To Find Out More About Mary Visit Her Website Here.

alpine xanadu

The Alpine Xanadu:
An Emma Lord Mystery (Emma Lord Mysteries)

24th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Ballantine Books (January 29, 2013)
An Imprint of The Random House Publishing Group
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345535313
E-Book File Size: 1085 KB
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345535316
ASIN: B008TSC10C

The Alpine Xanadu: An Emma Lord Mystery

Things are crazy in Alpine! RestHaven, a new rehab and mental health facility is finally opening and the Advocate staff in on deadline to get the feature out that will introduce it to the community. The town is buzzing about the news that Emma and Sheriff Milo Dodge are engaged. Then that fool Wayne Eriks has climbed an electric pole in the middle of a storm and got himself electrocuted. Or did he? Something is not adding up for the sheriff. Add to that allegations that someone’s trying to kill the richest man in town . . . or whispers of a rash of indecent behavior at the local high school… and Vida Runkel, the Advocate’s stalwart House & Home editor, disappears into thin air. Milo and Emma have no time to even think about a wedding. They have too many mysteries to solve. Their happiness will just have to wait.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Every visit to Alpine is entertaining and fun! This edition is jam packed with action and keeps the reader on their toes. Twists and turns galore. It is hard not to get caught up in the tangled web of these characters lives.

I don’t know if my husband could away with some of the comments the sheriff makes to Emma but for Milo they just fit. Emma and Milo have grown into that comfy couple. They respect each other but at times one of them wants to strangle the other. When you talk about characters evolving over the life of a series Emma and Milo are excellent examples.

Now Vida is the one I want to strangle. She needs to take off one of those huge hats and hit her grandson Roger with it! That kid needs to grow up and get on with his life and she needs to stop coddling him. She is an absolute treasure to Alpine. Who else who keep all these friends, foes and relatives straight? but she is not helping that boy a bit.

My heart aches for Mitch and Brenda and their family. Dealing with a son in prison has to be tough especially when he keeps escaping. 

Emma’s family takes a smaller role in this installment but Milo’s ex-wife and daughter are right on the scene. After 24 stories there are several characters the make minor appearances in these stories but Daheim does her best to keep us in the loop with as many families as possible. Each book is like a mini vacation to Alpine, Washington.

Mary Daheim writes intelligent and complex mysteries full of humor, intrigue and a bit of romance. In a previous review I called her a beacon on the cozy mystery horizon. She has created two longing running series and keeps them engaging and fresh.  I look forward to each and every one.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Mary has sponsored a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY!!!!

6! YES 6! HARDCOVERS BOOKS ARE ON THEIR WAY TO ME TO SHARE WITH YOU!!!
You can enter to win as many as you like.
There Will Be 6 Winners!!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Mary for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTSRCreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d0Cruisin 2013

Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Literary Escapes Reviews 2013

Review: Playing With Poison by Cindy Blackburn

playing with poison

Playing With Poison
A Cue Ball Mystery
First in Series
Cozy Mystery
Self Published (October 31, 2012)
Paperback: 250 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1480092686
E-Book File Size: 428 KB
ASIN: B009D99R0I

Playing With Poison

Jessie Hewitt is a pool shark that usually can run the table and knows where the balls will fall. She had no idea that a body would fall on her couch or that a cop would show up in her kitchen and accuse her of murder. How is she going to get out of this mess?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Best first line ever: “Going bra shopping at age fifty-two gives new meaning to the phrase fallen woman,” I announced as I gazed at my reflection.

I knew I was going to like Jessie right away! She is smart and fun and I would love to hang out with her and shoot a little pool. She is also a romance novelist and her work as Adelé Nightingale is steamy but told to us readers in the most hilarious way. Her agent Louise is “fantastical”! These characters are a hoot!! and their dialogue is at times side splitting.

A good plot, a fun setting and engaging characters come together to make the a lighthearted cozy that will put a smile on your face. A very entertaining debut! I am looking forward to Double Shot and Three Odd Balls.

just you and a friend

4 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
Cindy Blackburn has a confession to make-she does not play pool. It’s that whole eye-hand coordination thing. What Cindy does do well is school. So when she’s not writing silly stories she’s teaching serious history. European history is her favorite subject, and the ancient stuff is best of all. The deader the better! A native Vermonter who hates cold weather, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. During the school year you’ll find her in South Carolina, but come summer she’ll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Cindy has a fat cat named Betty and a cute husband named John. Both are extremely lovable. When Cindy isn’t writing or grading papers, she likes to take long walks or paddle her kayak around the lake. Her favorite travel destinations are all in Europe, her favorite TV show is NCIS, her favorite color is orange, and her favorite authors (if she must choose) are Joan Hess and Spencer Quinn. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Literary Escapes Reviews 2013

Special Thursday Edition of Cozy Wednesday with Author Josie Belle (Super Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday

This month has been crazy for incredible cozies!!

Let’s find out a little bit about Josie Bell!

Head shot - Jan 2012

1. What was your inspiration for the Good Buy Girls Mysteries?

The Good Buy Girls series is actually a writer-for-hire series, which means that Berkley Prime Crime had an idea for a bargain hunter series and was looking for a writer to write it. When I heard the premise, being a thrifty soul, I knew I had to write it. I changed pretty much everything about their original idea but they were happy with the changes and so a partnership was formed.

2. Are you a Good Buy Girl? (Coupon Clipper, Discount Diva)

OMG! The Hub says I can only buy something if I can say, “I scored it for 75% off, can you believe it?” It used to drive him nuts, but now, I think he understands that bargains are like a contact sport for me. How can you not feel the rush when you find a pair of designer shoes in your size for 90% off. I live for that, truly.

3. You have written under a couple of different pseudonyms, is this your choice or the publishers?

I have three series that were my original ideas under the name Jenn McKinlay, but I broke into the mystery world by taking a writer-for-hire project about a decoupage artist and that series is under the name Lucy Lawrence. Because the publisher owns the copyright for the writer-for-hire books, I had to use a different name. Both of my pen names come from mixing my grandmother’s names and my pets’ names, so they are still in the family.

4. What are you reading for fun right now?

In my day job, I work part-time in Youth Services at the Phoenix Public Library. This works out wonderfully as I don’t read mysteries when I’m writing them for fear that I might begin to sound like the author I am reading. So, I read young adult novels and I have a weakness for fanstasy/paranormal series books. My latest reads are Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. I highly recommend both books. My library teens have been bugging me to write a YA paranormal, so that is underway. It’s been fun to try something new!

Eiffel Tower Picture at Night5. If money was no object and you could escape to anywhere in the world to write where would you go and what do you think the book would be about?

WOW! That is an excellent question. When my hooligans are completely driving me mental (like the time I caught them hoarding water balloons to sneak attack the mailman – Oy!) I always picture myself on a balcony in Paris with my laptop open, a glass of wine to my right, and a view of the Eiffel Tower as evening leads the city into night. Sadly, I have no idea what I’m writing, but I bet I get more than a paragraph done without hearing , “Mooooooom!” Honestly, the Hub and the hooligans inspire me so much, I doubt I’d get much done in a quiet room, but the idea is a nice meditation when the burping, farting, yelling and wrestling get to be too much.

Thanks so much for inviting me to chat! Happy New Year, Lori!
Jenn/Josie

I am so thrilled when you stop by!! Thank you so much Jenn!!!

Now let me tell you about this wonderful story!!

a deal to die for

A Deal to Die For
(Good Buy Girls)

2nd in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (December 31, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425251850
E-Book File Size: 551 KB
ASIN: B0095ZPS4Y
Cover Illustration by Mary Ann Lasher
Cover Design by Sarah Oberrender

A Deal to Die For (Good Buy Girls, #2)

Maggie Gerber needs just the right merchandise to give her secondhand shop, My Sister’s Closet, the edge over her vindictive rival Summer Phillips’ new store that has opened right across the street. The Good Buy Girls have heard that Vera Madison will be selling off her vintage clothing at the St. Stanley flea market and they plan to be first in line.

And that’s right where there are when all hell breaks loose. Vera has left her daughter in charge of her booth while she runs a quick errand. But Vera will not be returning. She was just found dead and it has been ruled a murder.  The Good Buy Girls learn Vera had more than a few skeletons in her closet and more enemies than shoes. If Maggie wants to get her store open they are going to have to bag a killer before they bag any bargains.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am loving these Good Buy Girls and the Good Guys are not bad either. Summer Phillips is just plain mean and joined with the evil Courtney sets the reader up for a very entertaining ride. 

The mystery was complex and the secrets are revealed in such a way that keeps the reader guessing right up to the very special moment where everything falls into place. 

I like the romantic tension/triangle very much. Do you go back to the heartthrob of your youth or try something mature and new? Maggie is cautious and unsure and I hope the author takes her time experimenting with the couples a bit before Maggie falls hard for one or the other.  We are left guessing at the end and I refused to read ahead in the teaser chapter for Buried In Bargain because I just don’t want to know yet. Plus you know how these stories work, there has to be twists and turns, so I will not so patiently wait to read the entire thing when book #3 is released. 

A Deal to Die For should be at the top of your shopping list!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Josie Bell/Jenn McKinlay Visit Her Webpage Here.

Thanks to the author I have a Super Giveaway!!!
She has sent me 5 Autographed Copies of

and
Some Bookish Swag To Give Away!!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Josie for 5 Bonus Entries!

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 7, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cozy Wednesday Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2013

Cozy Wednesday with Author J.J. Murphy (Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am thrilled to have J.J. Murphy drop by!!

Thanks, Lori, for allowing me to ESCAPE with you again.

JJMurphy-ac

Q&A with J.J. Murphy

 

Q. Tell us a little bit about Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.young dorothy parker_flipped

A. Dorothy Parker was a real-life writer and poet. She joined a group of other writers and theater people who just happed to have lunch every day at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City in the 1920s. Soon, this group—called the Algonquin Round Table—became well known for their quotable quips and comments. I’m sure you’ve heard a few of Dorothy Parker’s most famous lines, such as “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” and “That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.” When asked to use the word “horticulture” in a sentence, Parker fired back, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.”

In the Algonquin Round Table Mysteries, Dorothy Parker becomes a very amateur sleuth—with a quip on her lip and a martini in hand—and her close friend Robert Benchley acts as her sidekick.

Algonquin2

Q. What is the game of Murder? What makes it “friendly”?

A. The members of the Algonquin Round Table loved to play games. In addition to their daily wordplay at lunches, one of their favorite games was called Murder. In this game, one player acted as the Detective, one player was the Murderer (unknown to all the other players), and everybody else was a potential Victim or Suspect. It was the Murderer’s job to get another player alone, and then announce, “You are dead.” At this, the Victim would fall to the floor and not make a sound until discovered.

Upon discovery of the Victim, the Detective was summoned. The Detective’s job was to question each player to determine “whodunit.” Although they were good friends, the Algonquins loved “one-upping” each other. So this was the ideal game for them.

557571_10151029904013281_429367907_nIn my book, A Friendly Game of Murder,the group begins a game of Murder during a New Year’s Eve party. The hotel is both snowed in and quarantined due to a smallpox scare.

It’s the perfect setting for things to turn deadly—but with some thrilling and hilarious results!

~J.J.

About This Author

J.J. Murphy is an award-winning health care writer in Pennsylvania, and has been a long-time fan of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.

Follow the mystery at www.roundtablemysteries.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RoundTableMysteries.

557571_10151029904013281_429367907_n

A Friendly Game of Murder:
An Algonquin Round Table Mystery

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (December 31, 2012)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451238993
E-Book File Size: 939 KB
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0451238990

A Friendly Game of Murder (An Algonquin Round Table Mystery #3)

How about a little friendly game of murder?

Dorothy and her friends gather at the Algonquin Hotel on New Year’s Eve for a swanky soiree hosted by movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Mary’s nose gets a little out of joint when young Broadway starlet Bibi Bibelot becomes the star of her party with her antics. But when Bibi is found later dead in the bathtub Mary is not the only suspect. No one knows who the killer is, but one thing everyone is sure of — they won’t be making any gin in that bathtub.

When even the Round Table members end up in peril, it is clear the game is afoot. Dorothy enlists the help of surprise guest Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to join the group and help track down the killer. It should be Elementary right!!

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I love, Love, LOVE this series and this one is my favorite so far!!! The Algonquin under quarantine!  The cat and mouse chase around the hotel was priceless! Benchley running the switchboard had me in tears with laughter! The nuns at the party, oh my word!!

J.J. Murphy has gift of getting into these characters heads and coming up with these absolutely wonderful stories. Adding Sir Artie to mix this time was brilliant. The man behind Sherlock Holmes who really hates it when people think he can solve mysteries.

The Roaring 20’s, the hotel, the flapper dresses, the waiters, the movie stars. Reading this story was just like watching on old talkie! The author puts us there so easily. I rode up and down that elevator right along with Dorothy, ducked the flying objects in the kitchen, got chills in that icebox.  J.J. Murphy I love the way you write! Don’t ever stop!!!

This story is not only fun and entertaining it is like a time machine taking us back in time!! and it is a marvelous trip!!! 10 starfish!!!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for J.J. for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 6, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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