Apr 052016
 

Last year 2 of my favorite things came together. I have watched Days Of Our Lives for as long as I can remember. You already know my favorite books to read are cozy mysteries. Last year Alison Sweeney, Sami Brady, on Days of Our Lives entered the cozy world when she portrayed Hannah Swenson in Murder She Baked: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder on the Hallmark Movie Channel. This movie is based on Joanne  Fluke’s  Hannah Swenson Mystery Series.  The 2nd movie, Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Murder Mystery and  the 3rd movie Murder She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery soon followed. In addition to being an actress and a director, producer, and former host of The Biggest Loser, Alison Sweeney is an author. This is her 3rd fiction novel and while not a cozy I have to tell you all about it.  

opportunity knocks
Opportunity Knocks: A Novel
Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Hachette Books (April 5, 2016)
Paperback: 206 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0316261609
E-Book ASIN: B013CATULY
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Alex Cleary has careened from one dead-end position to another. But suddenly the ingenious makeup artist finds her distinct talents are valued by none other than lifestyle-empire mogul Hillary P.–renowned for her golden touch in broadcast and print media, as well as for her hair-trigger temper. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the daytime television scene that Alex is determined not to screw up.

Then a frank word in the wrong ear puts Alex’s job on the line. Alex anticipates Hillary’s rage, but she can’t believe that this multimillionaire is holding her newest staffer to a nondisclosure agreement that demands reparation of 5 million dollars.

Alex has only 48 hours to repair the damage. And with a vengeful Hillary P. watching the clock, the devil will have her due…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Again Alison Sweeney takes us behind the scenes, this time we follow make-up artist Alex Cleary as she tries to kick start her career. She is in the right place at the right time and lands a job with Hillary P.  (I would say her empire is striving to be live Oprah Winfrey.) Hillary is not an easy woman to work for, she has a quick temper, demands a lot from her employees and has no problem raging at you when others are present. These traits can cause trouble not only for Hillary but everyone that works for her. Alex is called on the carpet for breaking the terms of her non-disclosure agreement and is on the hook for 5 million dollars! How is Alex going to come up with that kind of money? Is there another way out of this mess?

This was a fast entertaining read. Alex is very personable and very engaging. Her parents had different plans for her life but she is following her dream. Hillary P., is a woman with a rising career and quite a dictator. She rules her life and her employees with an iron fist and steps on or over anyone to advance her career. So of course we readers are rooting for Alex from the get go.

Sweeney has created several other great characters in this story. Alex’s best friend Emma, Billy Fox, an actor Alex meets when he guests on Hillary’s show, her boyfriend, Sean, and her family, plus others Alex meets when she follows Hillary’s show to New York. One who ends up turning Alex’s life inside out.

I enjoyed the way the author brings the madness of Hollywood/New York to life within these pages. I also liked seeing New York through Alex’s eyes. I have never been there myself and think my reactions would be quite the same.

Great characters, a flowing plot, romance, and humor all come together to make this a perfect escape!

perfect 2016

Dollycas

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alison sweeney2

Alison Sweeney is an award-winning actress, producer, director, TV host, and author of four previous books including the two novels: Scared Scriptless and The Star Attraction. She makes time to give back to the community, serving as the Fitness Ambassador to City of Hope and an Ambassador to Stand Up 2 Cancer. Sweeney lives in Los Angeles with her family.

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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Mar 272012
 

Guilty Wives
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now!

Four wives fly off in a helicopter no less for a Girl’s Weekend in Monte Carlo. Serena Schofield, a former U.S. Champion skier, she is the one footing the bill for this weekend. Her husband provides for her but it really is a loveless marriage. Bryah Gordon, born in Johannesburg under the oppression of apartheid, her husband is very controlling and at times physically abusive, so this is her first ever weekend away with just the girls. Winnie Brookes, an exotic Brit, beautiful inside as well as out. Her husband was in British Intelligence for years and now works at the British Embassy in Bern. Then there is Abbie Elliot, her husband is a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Bern. She can’t believe these women are her friends.

They are all having a fabulous time hitting the casinos and clubs, eating delicacies, drinking champagne, sitting by the pool, drawing the attention of many handsome men. Sounds like a wonderful weekend right?

When the “girls” wake up on a yacht surrounded by police they realize something awful has happened. They are arrested for a crime so unbelievable. The vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
A few years ago I read that James Patterson has so many story ideas that he basically just writes about a 100 page outline for each idea and then passes off to a co-writer to complete. This formula has produced many bestsellers. I had read two books earlier this year by David Ellis and was very impressed with his work. 

The theme of this book is interesting but there are just a couple of things that are keeping me from loving this book and giving it 5 stars. I am really starting to hate the 2 or 3 chapters at the beginning of a book that tell us almost word for word something happening later and then the story moves back to where the events started. It ruins the flow when you get to that part of the book and you think, “I already read this/knew this”. Then early in the book the readers are given a huge clue to what really happened and we keep reading until the characters realize the truth and have that “aha moment”. It takes away from the suspense.

With that being said I did enjoy the story. The procedures followed by the French officials, detectives, prison guards and the ease of buying certain ones off really showed the French in a bad light. I have never been to France or in this situation but realize being in prison is no picnic. What these ladies experienced could very well be true. It does make for a fine piece of fiction.

Patterson and his co-writers do deliver good stories. After so many and releasing so many each year I feel like they are getting to be rushed out to rake in the cash. This book will still be a bestseller because of Patterson’s reputation but this really could of have been great with just a few changes. My recommendation when you read this book start on page 15 and only read the first paragraph on page 31. Then you will love this book!!!


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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.”

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Feb 182012
 

Last Chance Beauty Queen
Published by Forever
Hachette Book Group
3rd in Series

Hugh Debracy, an English Baron, comes to Last Chance, South Carolina to try to complete a deal that his partner started before he disappeared. He needs to try to convince the owner of Golfing For God to sell him his property so that he can build his textile plant. Seems the land has perfect road and rail access, but the owner is not selling. Enter Caroline “Rocky” Rhodes, former Last Chance Watermelon Queen, aide to U.S. Senator Rupert Warren and daughter of the owner of Golfing For God. The Senator needs this factory built and expects Rocky to make it happen.

Rocky doesn’t come home to Last Chance often and coming home while the Watermelon Festival is going on turns this trip into quite a crazy return.  She is supposed to be working for the Senator, but her friends and family expect her take part in the festival as a former Watermelon Queen, wearing the green and pink dress, riding on a float in the parade and even taking part in a kissing booth.  She really wants to be promoted to the Senator’s Washington Office and none of these shenanigans are going to help her land the job.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I broke my own rule, this is the third book in this series and I read it without reading the previous two installments and you know what, it didn’t matter. This book can definitely read as a stand alone. This is Rocky’s story. Home At Last Chance is her brother Tulane’s story and Welcome to Last Chance starts off the series with their brother Clay’s story.

This is a wild crazy story full of wild and crazy characters and it was a splendid, fun and a very entertaining read. The Sorrowful Angel added a unique element to the story that at first I was confused by, but in the end it all came together.

Ruby Rhodes, Rocky’s mom runs the local beauty parlor, and you know how hairdresser’s know everyone secrets, that is definitely the case here. She is also the typical mother than can get her kids do anything she asks, even her oldest son, Stone, the local sheriff.

There is also a fourth book in the works, Last Chance Christmas. I plan to read the first two books before that one is released.

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ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Hope Ramsay was born in New York and grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. Hope earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Buffalo, and has had various jobs working as a Congressional aide, a lobbyist, a public relations consultant, and a meeting planner. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart, and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She has two grown children and a couple of demanding lap cats. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher via NetGalley. 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 102012
 

2012 best historical fiction
The Snow Child: A Novel
Reagan Arthur Books/ Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Just Released

Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel need a change. They are missing the child they lost and it is just too painful to be around friends and relatives and all their children. They set their sights to the Northwest, Alaska to be specific, to set up a homestead and a new life. The work and isolation feels good at first, but they are still longing for a child. Can their marriage stand the trials they have in front of them? Will their love see them through?

All the sudden it starts to snow, a thick wet snow, they venture outside and build a child out of snow, complete with a scarf and mittens.  The next morning the snow child is gone and a tiny trail of footsteps lead into the woods. For weeks they catch glimpses of something in the woods but both of them think they are only seeing what they wish for, not anything really there. Until a little girl shows up at their doorstep.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This story was so much more than I originally thought it would be. I had heard of a fairy tale about a snow child so I thought I knew where this story was going. I was so wrong. This book is full of love, loss, friendship, trust, pain, suffering and joy.

I would have gone crazy in the wilderness all alone with just my husband. Love is wonderful, but I was so glad that a boisterous, blustery, neighbor family befriended Jack and Mabel. Imagine having only one person to talk to do day in and day out for days on end, it’s freezing cold outside, and the land is full of moose, bears and coyotes. The people of that era had a strength I can only imagine.

You can tell the author is an Alaskan native as Alaska is not just a setting, it is another character in this beautifully written story. It contains a certain magic that transcends imagination while still giving a real look at how hard homesteading in Alaska was in the 1920’s. I can see how the fairy tale I remembered The Snow Child: A Russian Folktale was a bit of the inspiration but Ivey transforms it into an extraordinary story all her own.

This is the author’s debut novel. I can easily see it becoming classic.


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I will add my gently read review copy so I have a total of 4 copies to giveaway.
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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.”

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Oct 292011
 

This review originally appeared on Dollycas’s Thoughts June 21, 2011.

Reagan Arthur Books/
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group

ISBN-10: 031609966X
ISBN-13: 978-0316099660
Meredith Martin Delinn’s world is crashing around her. She has been living the “high life” since her children were small. Her husband, Freddy, was one of those wonderful guys on Wall Street that got caught by the SEC (think Bernie Madoff) making off with his clients money and wonderful guy that he was, he dragged his wife and family down with him.

Freddy is now sitting in prison while Meredith and their son Leo are under investigation and filled with questions. Their son Carver never got into the family business so he is not facing the heat, but Leo has moved in with him and they can have no contact with their mother.

Meredith has lost everything except for some money she had of her own before she was married, but she has no home, no friends, can’t talk to or see her sons, no social standing at all.  She contacts her friend since childhood, Constance Flute.  Their friendship fizzled out when they took all the money they had invested with Freddy out a couple of years ago. Connie’s husband, Wolf, was dying and he just didn’t think Freddy’s numbers added up and thought he was doing something shady.  But Meredith stood  by her man and blamed Wolf’s cancer for his poor judgement.

Connie is headed to Nantucket for the summer to try to heal from the devastating loss of not only her husband, but her daughter who is blaming her for not making her dad fight harder against the cancer that had returned.  He chose his work over the treatments.  He was an architect and he felt the work he was committed to needed to be completed and would be his legacy.  Connie has called and left a voice mail every Sunday hoping that just once her daughter will pick up the phone or call her back.

Connie decides to take Meredith with her to Nantucket so they may also heal their friendship, but once the people of the island find out that Meredith is there, the friends become plagued with old and new troubles, adding even more stress in their lives at a place that was supposed to be healing, relaxing and full of happy memories. Can their friendship be restored?  What kind of lives will they after when the summer ends?
This is the quintessential summer beach read.  It takes on the power of friendship, love, loss, forgiveness, trust, happiness, prosperity, misery, and bliss, along with an element of suspense.  It is also very current due to the scandal that happened in New York with Bernie Madoff recently, like I said above, but it shows the other side, that maybe some of the spouses of the Wall Street Execs really could be oblivious to what was really happening.  When they are bringing home that much money it is kind of taken for granted and the how and why is not always questioned. Unfortunately most of us are not in that position so I didn’t trust Meredith for a good part of this story, which made it more of a mystery for me as the clues were uncovered and linked together.

I also loved the special ways history was remembered and tied to some very beautiful music.  It made the story so much more real as they were songs I loved from my past.  Just added a wonderful element that set the back stories and much more.

I had the privilege to read an review Hilderbrand’s The Island last summer and declared it my Best General Fiction Read of 2010. Elin Hilderbrand has become one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to read her entire back list and anything she writes in the future.

The tagline of this blog is “Escape With A Good Book”.  This is the perfect “escape” book!! I did over the weekend and am so glad I did. Get yours today, fix a nice pitcher of lemonade, splash on a little sunscreen and hit the beach, deck chair, or porch swing and sit back and enjoy this wonderful story.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reagan Arthur Books, Little Brown and Company, a division  of Hachette Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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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