Feb 032017
 


On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I was not able to review when they were first released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

I am not going to lie, what is happening in our country scares me. I will not get all political but it did cause me to choose a different type of book for this week’s Flashback Friday. A book with no mystery to solve, a book about just every day life that I could comfortably “escape” into for a few hours and forget about what is really happening in the real world. I hope you won’t mind that I slipped away from the mystery genre this week.


Everyone Is Beautiful: A Novel
Domestic Life/Humor/Fiction
Setting – Massachsetts
Ballantine Books (February 17, 2009)
Hardcover: 256 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1400066438
Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0749909307
Kindle ASIN: B001NLL2TS

 

 

Lanie Coates’s life is spinning out of control. She’s piled everything she owns into a U-Haul and driven with her husband, Peter, and their three little boys from their cozy Texas home to a multiflight walkup in the Northeast. She’s left behind family, friends, and a comfortable life–all so her husband can realize his dream of becoming a professional musician. But somewhere in the eye of her personal hurricane, it hits Lanie that she once had dreams too. If only she could remember what they were.

These days, Lanie always seems to rank herself dead last–and when another mom accidentally criticizes her appearance, it’s the final straw. Fifteen years, three babies, and more pounds than she’s willing to count since the day she said “I do,” Lanie longs desperately to feel like her old self again. It’s time to rise up, fish her moxie out of the diaper pail, and find the woman she was before motherhood capsized her entire existence.

Lanie sets change in motion–joining a gym, signing up for photography classes, and finding a new best friend. But she also creates waves that come to threaten her whole life. In the end, Lanie must figure out once and for all how to find herself without losing everything else in the process.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I needed to read something different and funny and this book fit the bill.

Lanie’s life takes an abrupt turn when her husband’s new job uproots her family from their Texas home and into a 3rd floor 2 bedroom apartment in Massachusetts. She is with her kids, three under the age of 4,  24/7. While visiting a nearby park one day she reconnects with a classmate from high school and this gives her at least one adult to share things with and keep her sane. Her husband is wrapped up in his work and their relationship has reached the phase where you just go through the days without any real firm connection beyond being parents. At the end of her rope she joins a gym and realizes she has dreams as well. She just needs to figure out what they are and then find space to place them in her life. But can her marriage survive her putting herself first even just for part of the day or week without losing everything else so important to her.

As a mother of four I could relate to Lanie’s story quite easily. Mom’s always put themselves last. Those days when the children are small and it is a triumph to just get a shower or go to the bathroom by yourself. Unlike Lanie, I worked full time when my children were growing up, so I was around adults for a least 8 hours of the day. Lanie heads to the gym for her “me time”. I used to escape to my sewing room, where I made the lion’s share of the clothes for my family, and let my creative juices flow.

The author gives us an entertaining and in places really funny look at family life. You know the day to day stuff most of our lives are filled with. It’s not rocket science but sometimes getting through days with toddlers it seems like rocket science would be easier. Three little boys can be tough, especially 3 boys under four years old. I did want to jump in the book a few times to tell her to put the youngest one down. He was almost a year old and not crawling or walking yet and I think that was because she carried him everywhere. He was like her security blanket. Funny, after some lifestyle adjustments near the end of the book the little guy starts walking and crawling all in one day

This was just the book I needed to read at this time. It brought back some fond memories, but even it, a book like this, my new trigger word appeared, “suicide”. It seems I just can’t escape that in anything I read these days. Thankfully it was only a mention and was followed by a moment that made me laugh. This book was recommended to me several years ago, long before my son took his life. It has been buried in my To-Be-Read stacks since then. Waiting for me to find the perfect time to read it. Well last Sunday was the perfect time. If you need a light read, this may be the one.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


I am giving away my hardcover copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Contest Will End February 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This book was from my personal collection.

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Jan 302017
 

Welcome to My Reading Itinerary Monday!

I hope you had a wonderful week of reading!
My Literary Road Trip really has me traveling!

Here’s what I read and what
I have planned for this week.

Books Completed


15 Minutes: Maizie Albright Star Detective
Release Date – January 24, 2017
Setting – Georgia
The Great Escapes Book Tour stops here tomorrow!


Stone’s Gems and Murder: A Rock Shop Cozy Mystery
Release Date – December 7, 2016
Setting – Arizona
Cheryl Taylor will be my guest for Cozy Wednesday this week!


Murder Wears White (A Wedding Planner Mystery)
Release Date – January 31, 2017
Setting – Pennsylvania
Review will be up Thursday! 

Currently Reading

Everyone Is Beautiful: A NovelRelease Date – February 17, 2009
Setting – Massachusetts
My Flashback Friday Read

Books Scheduled


A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery
Release Date – February 7, 2017
Setting – California
For Review


Death & the Gravedigger’s Angel (An Auction Block Mystery)
Release Date – February 8, 2017
Setting – Missouri
Loretta Ross will be my guest for Cozy Wednesday next week.


A Palette for Murder (An Aurora Anderson Mystery)
Release Date – January 31, 2017
Setting – California
The Great Escapes Tour stops here next Thursday!

Click Here To See All My Current Giveaways!!

Please Share Your Reading Itinerary in the Comments below!
Happy Reading!!
Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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Jan 222016
 

9WbGnJTR

Back in 2005, way before I started blogging, I joined Paperback Swap. I had hundreds of books gathering dust and with Paperback Swap, I could trade them for new books I wanted to read for just the cost of postage. I went a little crazy and soon had a huge To Be Read stack, o.k. stacks. I found today’s book there when I was searching for Wisconsin authors. I was just able to read it now thanks to Flashback Friday

driving sidewaysDriving Sideways: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin/Road Trip West
Ballantine Books (May 20, 2008)
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345501103
E-Book ASIN: B00199B2XU
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

With her newfound vitality (and Larry’s kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stops in between: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Rockies, Las Vegas–and a memorable visit to thank Larry’s family for the second chance.

Yet Leigh’s itinerary takes a sudden detour when she picks up a seventeen-year-old hitchhiker, Denise, a runaway with a bunch of stories and a couple of secrets. Add a long-lost mother, a loaded gun, an RV full of swingers, and Hall and Oates’s Greatest Hits to the mix, and Driving Sideways becomes a hilarious and original journey of friendship, hope, and discovery.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Why did I wait so lone to read this book? Leigh Fielding lives with her brother and his wife about 30 minutes from where I am sitting. I loved all the local references. Also my mother was on dialysis for some time before she died so those references rang true as well.

Leigh was lucky to receive a kidney transplant and through a mix up the anonymous donation didn’t stay so anonymous. Leigh has planned quite a road trip and she has added a stop to visit one of her donor’s relatives. She wants to find out what he was like and to thank them for the gift they have given her. Against her brother’s wishes Leigh heads west in what turns into a very memorable trip. She gains a passenger along the way, they stop to see the sights, visit her best friend in Colorado, meet up with an old boyfriend, has an interesting stop at the donor’s mother’s house and then head to California to hopefully reconnect with her mother.

This was Jess Riley’s debut novel and it a heartwarming and sometimes a heartbreaking story.  It is also full of some laugh out loud and crazy moments. I found it to be very well written with a very balanced pace. Easy to picture all the events as they happened because of the author’s descriptive writing style. There was a twist that added just a little suspense too. It was almost a learning experience as Leigh has PKD, polycystic kidney disease. I had heard of this disease but didn’t know much about it.

The trip that Leigh calls her Unfinished Business Trip was quite a journey. I am honored to have been able to travel on it right along with her. I loved this story.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Wisconsin native Jess Riley spent much of her childhood being punished for lying and/or passing notes during class, both of which qualified her for a possible future as a novelist.

Jess has been a waitress, a blue cheese packager, and a school grant writer. She worked at a toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze and lived to tell about it. She’s also worked at a medium-security men’s prison, which was much less stressful. Jess graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1998 with degrees in English and History. She shares a drafty old house in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband and a neurotic dog that despises public radio.

You can follow her on Facebook here.


GIVEAWAY
I would love to share my copy with you.
Remember this is a used book.

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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.

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

Contest Will End February 5, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

~This book was from by personal collection.~

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Jan 182016
 

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Hosted by Book Date

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

Happy Monday Everyone!! 

Wasn’t last week a great week to curl up with a good book? It looks like another chilly week coming here in Wisconsin so I am hoping for another week of good books!
Here’s what I read and what I have planned for this week.

FINISHED

Gunfight at Grace Gulch (Christian Cozy Mystery) (A Dressed For Death Mystery Book 1)

Release Date – February 28, 2015
The Great Escapes Tour stops here tomorrow!
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Daisies For Innocence: An Enchanted Garden Mystery

Release Date – January 5, 2016
Bailey Cattrell will be my guest for Cozy Wednesday this week.
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Death of a Brooklyn Landlord: A Lorraine McDuffy Mystery

Release Date – December 23, 2015
The Great Escapes Tour stops here Thursday.
goodreads-badge-add-plus

Driving Sideways: A Novel

Release Date – May 20, 2008
My Flashback Friday Book plus she is a Wisconsin Author.
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ON DECK THIS WEEK

Sweet Pepper Hero: A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade

Release Date – January 5, 2016
For Review
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For Cheddar or Worse: A Cheese Shop Mystery

Release Date – February 2, 2016
Avery will be my guest for Cozy Wednesday next week!
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The Cakes of Monte Cristo: A Piece of Cake Mystery

Jacklyn will be my Special Guest on January 28!
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Plus I’ll grab a book of my shelf for Flashback Friday!

escape

Click Here To See All My Current Giveaways!!

Happy Reading!!
Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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May 072015
 

22747708The Alpine Zen:
An Emma Lord Mystery

26th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting- Washington State
Ballantine Books (April 7, 2015)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345535351
E-Book ASIN: B00N6PEU8O
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The picturesque town of Alpine in the foothills of Washington state’s Cascade Mountains—home to Emma Lord and her weekly newspaper The Alpine Advocate—has long charmed and enthralled mystery lovers. Now, with The Alpine Zen, Mary Daheim has at last reached the anticipated letter of Z. Her legion of avid armchair sleuths will relish this deliciously gripping novel.

As an early summer heat wave beats down on Alpine, Emma and her staff are treading very lightly. For unfathomable reasons, the paper’s House & Home editor, Vida Runkel, is in a major snit, refusing to speak to her colleagues, or even her boss. So when a peculiar young woman walks in claiming her parents have been murdered, and that she’s in mortal danger, too, it fits right in with the rest of the craziness. Then, to the utter bafflement of her colleagues, Vida vanishes without a word to anyone. And just when Emma and her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, start to unsnarl these tangles, a male body, dead too long to identify, surfaces at the town dump—making what seemed merely weird feel downright sinister. Has the hot weather driven everyone nuts, or are cold-blooded forces committing deadly misdeeds?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is a series that should be read from the beginning to see the character’s journeys as everyone is so interconnected. In this installment Vida is having a really hard time dealing with her grandson’s incarceration. Emma and Milo wedded bliss has entered a phase I would call “The Bickerson’s”. They seem to always getting on each other nerves.  Their work lives are hard to keep separate when he is solving crime and she is trying to report it while trying to solve them as well. When a young woman comes to town with an outlandish story and a dead body is found they have no choice to work together even with a lot of complaining along the way.

The main mystery itself was a little weak and needed more development and wrapped up a little too quickly for me.  I enjoyed reading about life in the area in the 60’s and I just wanted more. Vida always has her nose into everyone’s business and her behavior this time made us see she is not a thick skinned as she appears. It was nice to see a different  more vulnerable side.

There are always several story lines in a Mary Daheim novel but this time there were so many as she tried to check in with so many of the characters we have met over the years.  At first I thought it was to wrap everything up because we have reached the letter “Z”. Many people think this is the end of this series but it isn’t and I look forward visiting Alpine again soon. Just check out Mary’s webpage for details!!

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Mary Visit Her Website Here.

GIVEAWAYI am giving away my review copy!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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.

Following the new Google+ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Fan Page
will earn you 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 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 May 21, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner 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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Nov 252014
 

scent of rainThe Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novel
Published by Ballantine Books (May 4, 2010)
Mystery
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345471024
E-Book File Size: 1531 KB
ASIN: B0036S4AC2
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

One beautiful summer afternoon, Jody Linder receives shocking news: The man convicted of murdering her father is being released from prison and returning to the small town of Rose, Kansas. It has been twenty-three years since that stormy night when her father was shot and killed and her mother disappeared, presumed dead. Neither the protective embrace of Jody’s three uncles nor the safe haven of her grandparents’ ranch could erase the pain caused by Billy Crosby on that catastrophic night.

Now Billy Crosby is free, thanks to the efforts of his son, Collin, a lawyer who has spent most of his life trying to prove his father’s innocence. Despite their long history of carefully avoiding each other in such an insular community, Jody and Collin find that they share an exclusive sense of loss.

As Jody revisits old wounds, startling truths emerge about her family’s tragic past. But even through struggle and hardship, she still dares to hope for a better future—and maybe even love.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The What’s In A Name Challenge enabled me to cast the review books aside and grab this book off my huge To-Be-Read shelves.

Nancy Pickard takes us to Rose, Kansas where a man’s conviction of murder has been overturned and he is returning back to the scene of the crime. That shakes up the whole town but especially the family of the man who was killed and whose daughter-in-law is still missing. Their daughter Jody takes us through her story and finds things may take her down a very unexpected path.

Colin Crosby, the son of the man convicted of murder had a very interesting story as well. His father treated him terribly but he still grew up and became a lawyer and he was the one that was able to get the man’s conviction set aside.

Pickard has woven a story that could have taken place anywhere but she makes Rose, Kansas come alive and draws the reader right in. The vibrant characters jump off the page, but the story evolves slowly unveiling the mystery and the truth.  The family is very close, brought closer by tragedy.  She explores family relationships and the secrets and lies that can either draw a family together or rip it apart.

I was so impressed with the easy flow. There were surprises and twists but I would not call this a thriller as other reviewers have. It has a totally different kind of feeling. In addition to the mystery there is also an underlying love story that added another element to an already fabulous story.

I am truly sorry it took me so long to read this story. It was getting great reviews when it first came out that made me buy the book and while a few years have passed it is still getting those great reviews. If like me you missed this story when it first came out it is one that shouldn’t be missed. Add to your reading schedule as soon as you can.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 Find out more about Nancy Pickard and her books on her webpage here.

*This book was from my personal collection.

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Mar 282014
 

The Alpine YeomanThe Alpine Yeoman:
An Emma Lord Mystery

25th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by Ballantine Books (March 25, 2014)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345535337
E-Book File Size: 1382 KB
    Amazon ASIN: B00FIMZ08C
    B&N ISBN-13: 9780345549877
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

Alpine Washington 2005

This series continues as newlyweds Emma Lord and Milo Dodge are remodeling and adding on to her log cabin to make room for both of them. Emma is the publisher of the Alpine Advocate and Milo is the town Sheriff.  When a dead body is found is found near the local fish hatchery they each need to get back to work and do their jobs even if it means irritating the other one. Emma has deadlines to meet and wants information. Milo has a killer to catch and has to hold things back from her. But together they make a wonderful team.

Dollycas Thoughts

I have loved this series from the beginning and truthfully to fully enjoy this story you really should start at the beginning. It is hard to get to know these characters and all they have been through if you try to read this story as a stand alone.

I do really think Mary Daheim tops herself with each and every book. She packs a lot into 350 pages.  There are teenage girls missing, a dead body that nobody knows (meaning he isn’t from Alpine and the residents aren’t really interested), and then a deputy takes some time off and basically falls off the map. She has written a fantastic mystery with a twist that brings to light a secret that had been buried a long time.

What I also love about these stories are the subplots,

  • Vida and her grandson – he is in big trouble this time.
  • Mitch and Brenda are still dealing with their son in prison.
  • Amanda’s baby is due soon.
  • Ed has come up with another stupid idea.
  • Milo’s daughter Tanya is getting better, closer to Emma, and has even started dating.
  • and more!!

The story is full of humor too, from Milo and Emma crazy newlywed behavior, to the meals she tries to get him to eat, to him forgetting to tell her things she needs to know, like there are walls of the house coming down.  I think it is cute the way they try to relax together with a drink at the end of each day but Milo wanting Emma to sit on his lap (and you know where that leads) was a little over the top for me.

Again this author has written an intelligent mystery with wonderful characters in a beautiful setting. The “Z” story should be very interesting. Be sure to check out her Bed and Breakfast series too!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Mary Visit Her Website 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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Feb 012013
 

AVALON LADIES

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Ballantine Books (January 29, 2013)
An Imprint of The Random House Publishing Group
Hardcover: 448 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345525376
E-Book File Size: 1184 KB
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 034552537X
ASIN: B008WONV0M

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

Darien Gee, the author of Friendship Bread takes us back to Avalon, Illinois, population 4243.

Madeline’s Tea Salon is the place residents meet and catch up and even occasionally get together as a group like the members of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society founded by Bettie Shelton. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future.

Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.

Bettie has helped so many people and now she is facing a trial of her own. Everyone needs to come together and create something truly memorable just for her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Darien Gee writes about friendship and she does it masterfully. I was actually sad when I reached the last page. Bettie may not be adored by everyone in Avalon but she sure is the glue that holds the town together. She believes the answer to every problem is scrapbooking and saving memories. It is also the community of scrapbookers and their families that gather together to share their projects and support each other through good times and bad.

While Bettie is the main character of this story, the supporting characters are written just as well. A few characters return from Gee’s first story but we are introduced to new ones as well. There are several prominent supporting characters. You need to take your time, this is not a book to rush through, so you can really get to know these fabulous. characters and their stories.  I said in my review of Friendship Bread that is was a story to be savored and the same is true with this story. The characters are rich and their stories feel real. One story line reminds me of similar circumstances in the Miss Julia Series by Ann B. Ross.

Gee has written another heartwarming and inspiring story that you will want to share with all your friends. I can only hope that this is not our last trip to Avalon. Both books are fabulous and can be read as stand alone but you will want to read both and then you will want to bake bread, start scrapbooking and get together with all your friends and family. The recipes and scrapbooking tips are a real added bonus.

a perfect escape 5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Darien Gee check out 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.”

readalattechallenge_zps01d248d02013EbookChallenge

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Jan 302013
 

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

 

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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

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Aug 102012
 

The Inn at Rose Harbor: A Novel
Brand New Series
Ballantine Books (August 14, 2012)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345528926

The Inn at Rose Harbor: A Novel


Debbie Macomber takes us back to Cedar Cove, Washington for her brand new series. This series features Jo Marie Rose. She has came to Cedar Cove to make a fresh start after the death of her husband. She has purchased the local Bed & Breakfast and renamed it Rose Harbor Inn. Her surname may be Rose but there is not a single rose bush on the property, but there will be a rose being planted very soon.

Her first guest is Joshua Weaver. He has come to Cedar Cove after receiving a call from his stepfather’s neighbor telling him that the man was very ill. There is no love lost between Josh and his stepfather. The man kicked him out of the house before he even graduated high school. A friend of Josh’s from high school reenters his life. She hopes that with her help these two men can reconcile before it is too late.

Abby Kincaid arrives in town for her brother’s wedding. She hasn’t been back to Cedar Cove for twenty years. The town holds so many painful memories, she is almost wishing she had stayed in Florida. She runs into an old high school friend who suggests a lunch with all her old Cedar Cove friends. Abby agrees when her mother is invited too. This lunch is going to be a monumental event for Abby. Is she ready to face her past and try to move forward?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am thrilled the Debbie Macomber is not done with Cedar Cove but taking the stories in a different direction. I loved it when characters from the previous series drop by the inn to introduce themselves to Jo Marie.

Like other books from this author the books are full of flawed characters who learn to forgive and fall in love again. This one had some real tearjerker moments so keep a tissue handy.

Jo Marie’s story is one many women are living today as their spouse doesn’t come home from Afghanistan and women have gone through forever back in time. Buying the inn to help her through her grief and feeling her husband’s presence in very special ways is so moving.

This series promises to be quite inspiring as Jo Marie is effected by guests and the way the guests are effected by Jo Marie and the folks of Cedar Cove. Macomber fans will love this and don’t worry if you haven’t read any of her books this is a great story to start your journey with Debbie Macomber.

 

Dollycas

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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Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae BrownGet Your Copy Today!
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