Posted in Reviews 2011

Edited for Death by Michele Drier

Edited for Death
By Michele Drier
Mainly Murder Press, LLC
Available Now

When Amy Hobbes takes on the editor job of a small town Northern California newspaper she expects a fairly easy job. She decides she wants to write a book about Senator Robert Calvert who had died recently. He was a WWII war hero and the famous son of a family from nearby Marshalltown. His family owned the Marshalltown Hotel since the Gold Rush, but as more people with connections to the hotel end up dead, secrets begin to emerge and the book takes a backseat to the daily news and solving the murders. Some of the secrets even lead to a Holocaust survivor who has been tracking stolen goods taken during the war. Quickly the past of the Calvert family puts not only Amy but her friends in danger, simple research could end up with dire consequences.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
An excellent debut!The author’s background in journalism shows in every word and every page. The story was well researched and a bit of a history lesson as well. The flashbacks to the war were amazingly insightful. The settings rich with history. The characters clearly defined. The story builds and unfolds at a rapid pace. There is bit a romance starting for Amy as well which adds another wonderful element. I hope the author has more adventures planned for Amy Hobbes, this is a wonderful start to what could be a very entertaining series.


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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 Reviews 2011

A Pinch of Love by Alicia Bessette


A Pinch of Love: A Novel
by Alicia Bessette
Plume
Published by The Penguin Group
Available Now
Cover Design by Melissa Jacoby

More than a year after her husband was killed during a relief mission in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Rose-Ellen “Zell” can’t bring herself to move on with her life. Zell who has lived her life with her meals provided via take out or the microwave. So much so, that her husband could even hide surprises for her in the oven knowing it would never be used.

A simple error by a postal carrier changes her life. She receives a magazine touting a baking contest with a $20,000 grand prize. She decides to enter and win and donate the money to hurricane survivors in her husband’s memory. Thankfully after a failed baking attempt that almost burns her house down, Zell meets Ingrid. Ingrid is nine years old, lives next door to Zell with her dad, and Ingrid’s mother is completely out of the picture. These two form an unlikely friendship as they endeavor to win the baking the contest. They both have very different reasons for wanting to win and this contest could change both of their lives forever.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A compassionate look at the grieving process. The author has mixed together the perfect ingredients to turn out a true recipe of hope and light through the darkness of losing a loved one. The new bonds created are real and ring true in a engaging story that may have you laughing one moment and crying the next.

The characters in this story are absolutely wonderful. Even the character of Zell’s husband is fully developed and his strength carries on in Zell as she allows herself to grieve her devastating lost.  It is true sometimes the best medicine for the hardest times comes from children and our pawed friends. 

If you are like me and endured Home Economics in high school you will love the Ye Old Home Ec Witch references and how the “witch” spends her time in retirement.  

Keep some tissues handy, the entire story will warm your heart and remember a pinch of love never hurts no matter what you are doing.


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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 Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011

Cozy Wednesday with Author Livia J. Washburn (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to another Cozy Wednesday! With the weather getting colder and the snow last week this picture sure looks inviting.

I am really excited to have Livia here today. The Fresh Baked Mysteries are truly tasty delights and the first book in her Delilah Dickinson Literary Tour MysteriesFrankly My Dear, I’m Dead,is waiting for me on my To-Be-Read stacks and I can’t wait to get to it. While doing a little of research to prep for her visit I was surprised to learn that she started writing stories with her husband and then branched out on her own. Well know I am just one of many that is so glad she did, I have enjoyed everything I have read by her and am excited for more!!

Welcome Livia!!!

Thanks for inviting me!

When I began the Fresh Baked Mystery series several years ago, I didn’t really intend for most of the books to center around holidays, but that’s the way it’s developed, for several very natural reasons.

For one thing, what better time to bake than around holidays? When I was growing up, pumpkin pie season began shortly before Halloween (after all, when you hollow out a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern, you have to do something with the insides), extended through Thanksgiving, the traditional pumpkin pie holiday, and right on to Christmas. We can’t forget about pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins, either. (Phyllis certainly won’t forget pumpkin muffins after The Pumpkin Muffin Murder.)

Then you have pecan pies for Thanksgiving and festively decorated cookies and gingerbread men for Christmas (hence The Christmas Cookie Killerand The Gingerbread Bump-Off.)

Heart-shaped cookies and decorated cupcakes are popular for Valentine’s Day. Hmm, a future book, maybe?

Yes, holidays are an extravaganza of baking, all right, but what about murder, you say? It’s also well known that holidays are the most stressful time of year for many people. Nursing a grudge? Need money? Have a secret you don’t want exposed? Having to deal with the holidays on top of that is just going to make things worse. All the murderous impulses that bubble up are going to be that much harder to suppress, and if you’re desperate enough, you might just pick up a ceramic gingerbread man and bash it over somebody’s head . . .

Just don’t do it in Phyllis Newsom’s front porch, or she’ll be on your trail, as she is in The Gingerbread Bump-Off.

Another reason I like writing about holidays is that I have such good memories of holiday seasons from years past in my own life. I come from a large, gregarious family, and there were parties and family get-togethers for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July . . . any excuse to get together and have good times with family and friends. Phyllis feels the same way, and that’s why she usually finds herself opening her home for some sort of festivities, such as inviting those who have no other place to spend Thanksgiving, as she does in The Pumpkin Muffin Murder,or taking part in the Annual Jingle Bell Tour of Homes, which leads to murder in The Gingerbread Bump-Off.

Luckily, holidays don’t always equal murder, even for Phyllis, otherwise she might be tempted to stop celebrating!

~Livia

This has been quite a month for Livia. Not only was The Gingerbread Bump-Off released but The Pumpkin Muffin Murder came out in the mass market paperback version. I have reviewed them both below.


Obsidian
Publish by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
A Fresh Baked Mystery
5th in the Series
Cover Art by Jesse Reisch

It’s almost Thanksgiving in Weatherford, Texas and the First Annual Harvest Festival is just about to start. Phyllis is baking her Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins for the baking contest and this time her friend Carolyn is a judge instead of a competitor. In most contests they go head to head in the competition so there is less pressure on both of them.

That is until right before the judging is supposed to start. One of the scarecrow decorations turns out to be a disguise that turns the festival into quite a scary experience. The disguise is being worn by the festival’s organizer who is most definitely dead and not at all festive. The wife of the victim seems to be the most likely suspect but she is Carolyn’s friend and Carolyn begs Phyllis to track down the real murderer before her friend ends up wearing orange behind bars.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This was a face paced mystery that once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The clever idea of hiding the body in a scarecrow decoration was genius. To think if it would have just not looked a little out of place it would not have been discovered until after the festival.

Phyllis is a fun protagonist because she just knows she will figure things out, she just needs to talk things through, sometimes with herself, but when she gets those clues put together just right and she gets that look on her face where everyone knows she did it, she figured it out.

A delightful addition to this series!!


Obsidian
Publish by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
A Fresh Baked Mystery
6th in the Series
Cover Art by Jesse Reisch

Christmas comes to Weatherford along with the annual Jingle Bell Tour. One of the participants has to drop out for health reasons and Phyllis agrees to have her house be a last minute substitute, even though she already has her hands full planning her friend and tenant Eve’s bridal shower and wedding.

After a trip to purchase a more holiday lights and decorations and with the help of her friends and neighbors she has the house ready in plenty of time for the big event. With the tour ready to start in just minutes, Phyllis hears a crash on her front porch.  She opens the door she finds Georgia Hallerbee, her friend and coordinator of the Jingle Bell Tour unconscious. Someone had used one of her decorations as a weapon to hit Georgia over the head.

Phyllis quickly transfers herself from hostess mode into detective mode and sets out to find the person responsible for this holiday tragedy.

Dollycas Thoughts
What’s a holiday without a little murder in Weatherford? Poor Phyllis seems jinxed by these incidents but she takes them all in stride. With her gentleman friend Sam, they are off to solve another mystery. Love it!!

Livia J. Washburn is a wonderful storyteller and I love the adventures she takes us on with her characters. They are exciting and this one had quite a complicated plot with plenty of suspects. Plus there is never a lack of humor in these stories. They dialogue between the characters can have you in stitches. Poor Sam in the house with these three women, never a dull moment even without the bodies turning up. The back story of Eve and Roy adds a little intrigue as well. That story going forward could prove quite interesting since Eve is known for her many marriages.

This installment is a real holiday treat.


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Thanks to the great people at Penguin I have
2 copies of The Gingerbread Bump-off to giveaway!

Plus 1 Trade Paperback Copy of The Pumpkin Muffin Murder!!

Fill out one form for each book you would like to win!

U.S. & 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 Livia for 5 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End November 30 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

Want an extra chance to win Gingerbread Bump-Off!! Deb is also giving a copy away!!!
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 Reviews 2011

Paper Angels by Billy Coffey


FaithWords
Hachette Book Group
Now Available

Andy Sommerville seems no different than others in his rural Virginia community, but what sets him apart is that his best friend is an angel. Andy’s world is turned upside down when a brutal attack leaves Andy burned and the boy he loved as a son dead. At this crucial juncture, the angel abandons him to loneliness and pain. The entire story is told from Andy’s hospital bed as he relives his like through memories. Each of the memories is triggered by something Andy has kept in a special box.

Dollycas’s Thoughts I started to read this book awhile ago and had to put it down because I could tell where it was headed. With its release date last week I made myself finish it so I could honor my commitment for an honest review. In the meantime, I had seen a few five star ratings, so I thought: What is wrong with me? This has to be a good book, you just have to finish it.

It is well written and definitely has strong message but it just hit me wrong and after thinking about it, I now know why.

As many of you know I had a traumatic experience myself back in 2001 when I was in a motor vehicle accident and spent 75 days in the hospital. I do not remember much after getting transported by Med-Flight to the hospital except for a few moments in the emergency room when everyone was talking how dire my prognosis was, then a solid tone from a monitor, then darkness, then “she’s back”. (Note to medical personnel, we can hear you!) The next 3 weeks are gone from my memory. I know it is a miracle I am here and that it “wasn’t my time”, but the only angels I had were humans that took care of me, rehabilitated me to move on my own and my family, friends and all their prayers. I had actual counselors to help me heal. So maybe I didn’t like the story because I felt slighted because I had no angels sent by God, at least that I know of.

Spoiler Alert
Maybe I didn’t like that Andy poured his heart and soul out to an angel and in the end after tragedy he was a better man. Coming out on the other side of an event like this does not get better overnight. Yes, Andy will wear his scars forever as will anyone who survives a terrible injury but this all just happened to easily and was tied up too nicely with a hairband in the end. Yes, I am a Christian and I believe in God and things happen for a reason but life is not easy and being disabled in life adds to the strife.

The reason I didn’t like this book is because of who I am and the life I had and the life I continue to lead. My journey is totally different than anyone else’s as are my feelings. This book just didn’t give me that good feeling that the other reviewers felt, but that is on me. Maybe my expectations were too high. You may totally enjoy this book depending on where you are in your journey. I think I may have read this book at the wrong place in mine.

The author is very good. I loved his book Snow Day. I look forward to reading his work in the future. I always say that if we all liked the same things life would be pretty boring and that is the case with this story, it just wasn’t “my cup of tea”.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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 Reviews 2011

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson & Richard DiLallo

The Christmas Wedding
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now

Gaby Summerhill’s husband died three years ago and her four children have slowly drifted apart dealing with their own life’s drama. They have not been together for Christmas since their father died but Gaby is determined to change that. She announces she is getting married on Christmas Day and everyone’s presence is required. She is also being very sneaky letting them know the groom will be “revealed” that day.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

When you think of James Patterson and his co-writers the first thing that comes to mind are his suspense thriller novels. It is stories like The Christmas Wedding, Sundays at Tiffany’s, and Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, where we see his softer side but these books do have twists or surprises too. The are a true testament to his versatility as an author.

I once read that Patterson has co-writers because his just has too many ideas to get all the stories written by himself. With the co-writers he is able to publish an outstanding number of novels each year for all ages and for all his series’ and still get out a stand alone as impressive as this one. I was drawn into this one just like I am into his suspense stories.  

Christmas by itself gives the feeling of magic but this book adds its own touch of magic bringing this family after the death of their father and while they are all dealing with different forms of crisis in their own lives.

The premise of the grooms waiting until Gaby reached the altar didn’t set with me well at first, but Patterson pulled it off, by showing how much these men all loved Gaby and wanted her to be happy. The proposal scenario set this up wonderfully. Plus we are talking about people in their fifties who have been close their whole lives here, their at different places in their lives that the younger set who are thinking of having kids and building their lives together.

I enjoyed this holiday story. It was a fun, easy, light, Christmas story to put you in the right mood for the holidays right around the corner.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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 Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011

Cozy Wednesday With Riley Adams (Giveaway too!)

When I “met” this author it was another one of those a-ha moments. I had read one of her books a few years ago, A Dyeing Shame: Death at the Beauty Boxand Pretty is as Pretty Dies (A Myrtle Clover Mystery)has been on my wish list for way too long.

I have really enjoyed all three books in her Memphis BBQ Mysteries. My review of the latest will follow her guest post. I am so happy she is her today!

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday Riley!! um Elizabeth!!!

Thanks Lori!!

Hi Everyone!!! I hope you enjoy my post.

Why it’s Dangerous to Unleash Writers on An Unsuspecting Public

It’s interesting to me that writers get so many invitations to speak at book clubs, libraries, and other events.
Clearly, people don’t realize the dangers of unleashing writers on the general public. Oh sure, writers seem harmless. To folks who don’t know us very well.

8 Ways Writers Cause Trouble…
1. We spy on people. We really do. We listen in on your conversations and pay closer attention to you than you think. Maybe you’re turning into a bit character in our story. Maybe there’s some mannerism of yours that fits one of our characters to a T. Maybe you even look exactly like a character we made up! That happened to me once and I had to surreptitiously take a picture of the person who was twins with the one in my imagination.

2. Sometimes we don’t listen to you very well. We get that dreamy look on our faces when we get an idea for our story. Once a lady was talking to me about soccer team snacks and giving me a date to bring them. All I could think about was how she looked like Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and how I could use a Camilla in my story…I ended up having to scramble later, when I found out it was my weekend to bring the snacks.

3. We could potentially wipe out the unsuspecting public of its entire supply of coffee, chocolate, wine, and office supplies. If given the opportunity. And maybe, some money.

4. We have really strong imaginations. I called the police to a local park one time because there was a gun case there. It ended up being a pool cue case (still not sure what it was doing at the park, though.) The other mother in the park at the time looked at me in amazement.

5. Sometimes we talk to ourselves. Most people aren’t sure quite what to make of that. It’s easily explained, though—we’re just trying out a few lines of dialogue. Really.

6. Mystery writers, in particular, are always on the lookout for reasons why people might want to kill each other. Best not to tell us about your fiery argument with your ex, boss, or next-door-neighbor.

7. We’re noisy typists in the library. Try not to sit near us if you value your quiet reading time.

8. We’re frequently wallflowers at parties. You’ll spend most of your hosting time trying to get us to talk to other people.

…And 2 Ways We Don’t

On the upside…we always have bookmarks if you need them! And, hopefully, some good stories for you to escape with.
Got any interesting writer stories or writer sightings (either of writers behaving or—even better—of writers misbehaving)?

~Elizabeth

About This Author
Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011. Hickory Smoked Homicide, book three in the Memphis Barbeque series, was released November 1.

Thanks Elizabeth, I can’t wait for the Southern Quilting series!!!!


Hickory Smoked Homicide (A Memphis BBQ Mystery)

A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
3rd in the Series
Cover Illustration by Hugh Syme
Cover Design by Annette Fiore Defex

Welcome to Memphis Tennessee, home of Aunt Pat’s Barbeque Restaurant and the best BBQ around.

Lulu Taylor is the owner of this fine establishment, named in honor of her great-aunt. Lulu knows just about everyone in Memphis and if she doesn’t know someone, one of her friends does, which usually lands her smack dab in the middle of much more than a bit of BBQ sauce.

Beauty pageants are a pretty big thing right now for tots and teens. Memphis hosts more than a few and one pageant coach, Tristan Pembroke, thinks pretty highly of herself even though most people don’t think much of her at all. When the coach’s body is found dead in a closet at a party and the police start pointing fingers at Lulu and her family she knows she has to help the police again find the real killer. As she studies the whole picture the real culprits become clearer and clearer, she has to prove it before anyone else gets hurt.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
With a large dose of humor and some very colorful characters this whodunit is stick to your ribs awesome. I loved it!

The characters in this series are so bountiful and quirky you just have to love them. The police jumping to the wrong conclusion is standard in mysteries, and several suspects are quickly revealed but this author adds an unexpected twist that I never saw coming.

Fans of this series will love it. If you haven’t started this series there is no better time than the present.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Thanks to the great people at Penguin I have
2 copies of this wonderful book to giveaway!
U.S. & 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 Riley for 5 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End November 23 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted 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 Reviews 2011

Kris Jenner … and All Things Kardashian

Kris Jenner . . . And All Things Kardashian
Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
Available Now

Kris Jenner is the “Momager” to all her kids but is her husband Bruce’s manager as well. Most people today know her from their family show Keeping Up With The Kardashians but there is so much more to her story. How she got to the point she is in today. From where she started with the strong women who influenced her early in life, to her marriage to Robert Kardashian, to her friendships with Nicole and O.J. Simpson, to how she met and married Bruce Jenner. She tells all.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I was so excited to get this book for review. I do not watch a lot of reality television but I do watch all the Kardashian shows. I find them to be a nice “escape” for me and one of my “guilty pleasures”, even with all Kim’s drama happening now with her divorce, but that’s a topic for another day. It is just sad that it may have taken away from Kris’s big launch of this very entertaining and enlightening book.

This book is 98% about Kris Jenner’s life before the Kardashian family entered the television spotlight with their shows. I knew her first husband was part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” but never realized the friendship between Kris and Nicole Simpson. Kris gives us the inside view of that friendship and the trial and unique way it touched her whole family, including her now husband Bruce Jenner. 

A lot of people say the Kardashian’s are famous for being famous and that may be true. Kris Jenner is the force behind this family and she took what she had to work with and has basically turned it to “gold” for this entire family. You cannot argue her work ethic, she is a successful business woman and has passed her drive onto her children. Mistakes were made in her life but she kept going. The book is a testament to perseverance.   This book is written with the same mantra as the show, she tells us the good and the bad, the triumphs and the pitfalls. 

She did gloss over a few things in the book that I felt should have been addressed but then I realized they weren’t part of her story. Let Kim talk about her trials and tribulations in her own book someday. The same with the Scott Disick drama, that is for Kourtney to talk about in her own time.

I truly enjoyed this well written memoir. If you are a fan of the Kardashians you will like it too.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free 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 Reviews 2011

The Puppy That Came For Christmas by Megan Rix

The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy
A Plume Book
A Division of The Penguin Group
Available Now

All Megan Rix ever wanted was a baby. Yet, month after month, Megan’s dreams were dashed. Would her life ever feel complete?

Megan and her husband, Ian, found a surprising answer when they began training golden retriever pups to become service dogs for people with disabilities. But opening their homes and hearts up to Emma, and then Freddy-only to have each move on after six months-eventually took its own toll. Megan and Ian didn’t know if they could continue. They needed to decide where they lives were really headed and if they needed a “forever pet” or foster another pet or have no pets at all.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This book is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking. To want a baby so badly and nothing works but we see how animals can sometimes fill that big void in a heart the way nothing else can.

While I have four healthy now adult children, a grandson and another grandchild on the way, I am also mom or grandma to six cats and two dogs. The two dogs and two of the cats are here wandering around everyday bringing so much joy to my life. The cats love to snuggle and even sit here on my desk and “help me type”, they will knock books out of my hand when they feel I should be giving them attention. The dogs warm my feet, are needing of regular head pats and belly rubs and curl up at the foot of the bed when it is time to sleep. Our pets are our family too. They are always happy to see whether we have been gone an hour or a day or even longer. Tails wagging, cheerful barks, huge meows tell us it’s about time we got home and they want our attention right now. Plus the difference between kids and pets, pets never ask for money or the keys to the car or complain they are bored with nothing to do.

This book shows how a puppy can bond a family together. It is very well written and gives a little different perspective than other books such as Marley & Me. I read it all in one sitting and really enjoyed it. Another nice book for the holidays!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

**I will be including this book in a future giveaway hop!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Plume. 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 Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011

Cozy Wednesday With Kate Collins (Giveaway too!)


I “met” today’s guest on Facebook. I had been enjoying her books for years and was so happy when she accepted my friend request. With the advent of social media those names on the covers of books we love become up close and personal. We not only get to read about their struggles with writing and their joys of book release days but you get a peek at their personal lives as well. They truly become a friend you care about and so much more than a name on the cover.

This wonderful lady has had quite a year. She lost her husband, her best friend, her soul mate way too soon. One of the most terrible things anyone can go through. I didn’t know until I read this post by her on Cozy Chicks, just how difficult it was for her as a writer. I prayed for her as a friend to help her through her grief. She is still part of my daily thoughts because while I haven’t lost a spouse I know that when anyone you love passes away your life truly changes and their are many days we need to draw strength from others. I just never considered what she was going through as a writer. How important is is to have your “muse” there, with you, ready to take over and catch you before you fall.

I also never knew until I read that post how much my little review of her latest book meant to her. She generously sent me an advanced copy and I will treasure that copy always. I couldn’t wait to read it and then I couldn’t wait to tell everyone how much I loved it. Heck, I wish I could shout it from the rooftops! Stand outside of Barnes & Noble and make sure everyone buys it and the whole series! It is so good!!! I posted that review on the old blog so I will post it again at the bottom of this post.

Please help me welcome the sensational Kate Collins to Cozy Wednesday!

Hi Kate!

Hi Everyone,
I am happy to be here!

Let’s Play “Name That Fictional Character!”

To me, one of the most important aspects — make that critical aspects — of writing a novel is choosing names for my characters. If I don’t get the name right, I can’t hear the character speak, even though I may see his/her face clearly in my mind. If that sounds strange to you, consider the impact a name can have. For instance:

This fictional woman is stubborn, self-centered, driven, beautiful, willful, Irish by heritage, a Southern Belle by birth, and lets nothing stop her, not war, not starvation, not even losing the man she loves. Who is she?

I’m sure you guessed Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara. But just think how well that name suits her. Scarlett is a hard, vibrant red color often associated with anger or passion, yet it’s also a delicate, sweet-smelling rose. Doesn’t that sum up the determined, high-spirited, lovely, multi-layered and often thorny character we love to hate?

Next up is a TV character who is scruffy, witty, egotistical, fiercely independent, highly intellectual, addicted to Vicodin, and as brilliant as a medical Sherlock Holmes.

If you’re a fan of the TV series House, then you probably recognized its main character, Dr. Gregory House. House doesn’t need anyone in his life, or so he says, yet he offers a kind of shelter to his underlings, where, like little birds, they learn from him until he pushes them out of the nest. A house is a place unto itself, standing alone, yet offering shelter. Cool, isn’t it?

Or how about a real life example — superstar Oprah Winfrey? When I think of Oprah, I picture a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Say her name. Doesn’t it sound powerful? But – surprise! When I looked it up, I learned that it means a fawn. Sounds completely contradictory to who Oprah is today, yet consider that a fawn is a brand new life making its way in the world, tentatively at first, and then with more and more confidence as it learns to run like the wind. Look back at Oprah’s beginnings. She was something completely new and fresh to TV and had to make her way carefully along until she found her strengths and speed. Even her last name speaks of being “of the wind, being free.”

The main character in my Flower Shop mysteries is Abby Knight, a short, feisty, freckle-faced redhead who hates bullies and injustice. I chose her name carefully. Abby/Abigail is a young woman who hovers between being a full-fledged grown-up and a fledgling. Her last name is what she is, a knight, ready to fight battles for those she feels duty-bound to protect.

Abby’s assistant, Grace, is a gentle but firm, proper Brit who is the calm in Abby’s choppy seas, her grace. Abby’s mentor, Lottie Dombowski, is a lot of woman, big boned, big voiced, and big hearted. Then there is the enigmatic, dark and handsome Italian-American Marco Salvare, an ex-Army Ranger turned bar owner/PI who is always nearby in case Abby needs saving. Salvare is a savior in Italian.

The reason I mention this is because I’m once again pondering names for characters in my next mystery, and trust me, it’s a slow process. Still, I love doing it. I love creating characters that move people, or touch their hearts, or scare the bejeepers out of them. And by the way, you’ll find all three in my brand new Flower Shop mystery, To Catch a Leaf, released yesterday.

Are there any memorable characters, real or fictional, with strong or unusual names that stand out in your mind?

Does it bother you if a character in a book has the name of someone you dislike? And by the way, if I’ve ever given a villain your name, I apologize.

~Kate

Thanks Kate, I don’t know about the rest of you but she has me thinking about names of characters I love to hate. 🙂

As promised here is my review of Kate new book.

To Catch a Leaf: A Flower Shop Mystery
Obsidian
New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group

Bloomers Flower Shop owner Abby Knight is engaged to be married to the love of her life, Marco Salvare, and nothing is going to bring her off the cloud of happiness she is riding on, not even her future mother-in-law who is trying to take over all the wedding plans.

Abby and Marco do get a bit distracted when Catherine Newport, one of the area’s wealthiest woman, and Abby’s assistant Grace’s friend, is found dead at the bottom of the stairs by none other than Grace. Then Grace turns out to be the prime suspect because she not only found the body but is left a huge sum of money in Catherine’s will.

Before Abby and Marco can take back control of their wedding they must do their own investigation to find the real story, the real killer and save Grace. Then maybe life can go back to tea, scones, and bridal bouquets.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
You already know I loved To Catch a Leaf but I truly believe this is the best book Kate has written. This story is multifaceted and complex and perfectly paced. There are twists and surprises along with the comfort of the characters we have all grown to love.

When reading about Marco’s mom trying to take over the wedding I had to pause and think “did Kate ever meet my mother?” While we are not Italian reading about Francesca was just like conversations I had with my own mother while planning my own wedding. I had a real feeling of Déjà vu. If you are a fan of this series you know Kate characters are so true they almost jump off the page as is absolutely the case in this installment.

I don’t want to give to much away.
This story is a must read!!
I wish I could give it 10 STARS!

If you have not started this series or are behind it is never too late to find out everything about Abby, Grace, Lottie, Marco and all the rest of the characters from New Chapel, Indiana.

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Thanks to the great people at Penguin I have
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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.”

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Posted in Reviews 2011

Review: Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets

Death on a Platter: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper
Obsidian
New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Available Now

Josie’ latest assignment includes taste testing some of St. Louis’ local cuisine for a City Eats Food tour. One of her stops includes a restaurant owned by one of Josie’s mom’s friends so they head there first. Tillie’s Off the Hill is known for its toasted ravioli and Josie can’t wait to try it. The ravioli passes inspection but the clientele of the restaurant falls far below standard. One in particular is awfully unruly. When he becomes the victim of poison linked directly to the food he is served at Tillie’s the question becomes was he the real target or was someone trying to ruin the restaurant’s reputation.

The police believe Tillie was trying to get rid of her customer permanently and arrest her for the crime. Josie’s mom makes it clear to Josie she must find the real culprit as soon as possible. So Josie’s is soon up to her neck in the investigation. She hopes to find that Tillie’s cooking is not what did her customer in, but that someone else served up death on a platter.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I learned a lot about the foods that make St. Louis famous in this story, a few I wouldn’t even go near, but that didn’t keep me from loving this story. In fact most of Josie’s comments and reactions made my laugh out loud.

Josie just can’t say no to her mom and there were times I really wish she could as she kept putting herself in danger, but seriously how many of can say no to our mothers. This character is real through and through as are all the others which is why we invest our time into seeing what they are up to in each installment of this series.

The plot in this installment was very good too as we traveled to and fro trying to figure out who-dun-it.

Elaine Viets knows her stuff when it comes to cozy mysteries. She writes fun, fast paced mysteries with plucky protagonist that keeps us coming back for more.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Obsidian. 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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