This book caught my attention on NetGalley and when I was contacted to do organize a Great Escapes Book Tour I was chair dancing. Then I “met” Mary via emails and we just clicked. This is one of the reasons I love being a blogger. Meeting authors that write these wonderful stories is just wonderful. I am thrilled she is my guest today!!
I didn’t start writing until I reached my sixties. I had an unusual life and wanted to tell my story for my children and grandchildren. So I took memoir writing classes at the UCLA Extension Writers Program. For four years I recorded my memories over and over again in an attempt to hone the craft of writing.
After all that time, my life’s story began to sound like a self-indulgent whine fest. So I took a break and, since I loved reading mysteries, enrolled in a mystery writing workshop. To my great surprise I discovered writing fiction was fun. To my even greater surprise I discovered I could write humorous fiction, a welcome contrast to the heavy drama of my memoir.
When I first retired I spent a number of years sewing quilts by hand while listening to books on tape. The art of quilt making and storytelling became my universe. My quilts even got good enough to win a couple of awards. So when I turned my creative efforts to writing mysteries instead of listening to them, it felt natural to make my characters quilters. These were people I knew.
I also chose to set my stories in Encino, California, the suburb of Los Angeles where I live. Encino is familiar and I and feel comfortable here. When I write about the sidewalks broken by tree roots, the falafel restaurants and strip malls on Ventura Boulevard, readers who live here will know just what I’m talking about. Readers who live outside the area will get a picture of Valley living.
My main character, Martha Rose, is Jewish. So aside from the recurring quilting theme of my stories, I also write about Judaism. Much of Martha’s thoughts and behavior are informed by her background and heritage. I know I always enjoy reading books set in cultures that are unfamiliar to me. I hope my readers who are not Jewish will also enjoy learning about different customs and practices.
Martha is overweight. She struggles with a love of food, an aversion to cooking, and a history of failure when it comes to dieting. As a consequence she has what she calls a “typical Jewish figure,” an ample bosom and large hips. But at the age of fifty-five, she’s rather philosophical about the whole weight thing. Better to enjoy a slice of her friend Birdie’s applesauce cake now and worry about the calories later.
Martha is also divorced and living in an empty nest. Her only family is her daughter who lives in Boston, and her elderly uncle Isaac. Although she has serious trust issues and she’s not actively looking for anyone, men seem to come into her life just the same.
Social inequalities seem to pop up as recurrent themes in my books. So many people have common experiences with abuse and injustice whether it takes the form of racism, sexism, ageism, financial or social class. I spotlight these problems in my stories as a way to advocate for those who endure these struggles on a daily basis.
Writing cozy mysteries has been a way for me to draw on my life’s experiences without all the angst that went into writing my memoir. I believe it’s never too late to tell a story, whether it is real, fictionalized, or pure imagination. And having a debut novel at the age of seventy has been an extraordinary confirmation of that.
About Mary Marks
Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011.
Find out more on Mary’s webpage here.
Forget Me Knot
(A Quilting Mystery)
A Brand New Cozy Series
Published by Kensington (January 7, 2014)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
E-Book File Size: 1254 KB
Welcome to San Fernando Valley, California, where Martha Rose and her coterie of quilters are enjoying life on the good side of retirement—until murder pulls a stitch out of their plans…
Martha and her besties Lucy and Birdie are set to expand their Quilty Tuesdays by inviting newcomer Claire Terry into their group. Though at forty Claire’s a tad younger than their average age, her crafty reputation could perk up their patchwork proceedings, especially as they prepare for the fancy quilt show coming to town. But when they arrive at Claire’s home and find her dead inside the front door, and her exquisite, prize-winning quilts soon missing, Martha is not one to leave a mystery unraveled. Especially if she wants to stop a killer from establishing a deadly pattern…
Before my accident I was a avid quilter and it is one of the things I miss most but reading books like this let me escape back into the world of quilting with the mystery of a dead body thrown in just for fun. I would love to be part of Martha, Lucy and Birdie’s Quilty Tuesday group.
I can’t believe this is the author’s first cozy, she has nailed it perfectly.
Fabulous, real characters. I love Martha. I can relate because I am 50ish, overweight, love food, hate to cook and a horrible failure when it comes to dieting. She also has great friends, loves to quilt and likes to solve mysteries. But she does put herself in danger and does break a few laws which even land her behind bars. Something I have thankfully not experienced 🙂
Marks also tackles some powerful issues in this story. There is a mystery behind the mystery that just broke my heart. I was impressed how this subplot was presented and revealed. As a quilter I know that many quilts tell a story but after reading Forget Me Knot I will never look at a quilt the same way again.
This is a perfectly plotted and paced story with some very surprising twists that have stuck with me well beyond the final page.
A wonderful way to start 2014!!
Thanks to the people at Kensington I have 5 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
something you like here and become a follower.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Leave a comment for Mary for 5 Bonus Entries !
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Contest Will End January 22, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
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January 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 7 – Books-n-Kisses – Review – Giveaway
January 8 – Escape With Dollycas – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 10– Community Bookstop – Review – Giveaway
January 10 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post
January 11– Dr. Pepper Diva – Review – Giveaway
January 12– A Blue Million Books – Interview – Giveaway
January 13 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 14 – My Recent Favorite books – Review – Giveaway
January 15 – Thoughts in Progress – Review – Giveaway
January 16 – Mochas, Mysteries and More – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 17 – My Devotional Thoughts – Review – Giveaway
Quilt Trip: A Southern Quilting Mystery
3rd in Series
An Obsidian Mystery (December 3, 2013)
Published by New American Library
An Imprint of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 1228 KB
As a quilter, retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman likes to have all the seams stitched together—but her plans keep getting tangled up in unexpected ways…
In this third installment Meadow is dragging Beatrice to meeting they were not even invited to attend. Meadow has no qualms about “crashing the party”, but the sky looks like it is cooking up a storm and Beatrice would just like to stay home safe and sound. But there is no stopping Meadow so off they go to find the Victorian mansion in the mountains beyond Dappled Hills, North Carolina, that belongs to Muriel Starnes. Muriel is an elderly eccentric woman who wants to start a foundation to introduce and teach quilting to young people in the area. Meadow is on a mission to get her to choose the Village Quilters Guild over everyone else at the meeting to administer the foundation.
As expected the storm Beatrice was worried about strikes just as they arrive at the mansion. The rain soon turns to sleet and then ice. It isn’t long before an old tree limb falls blocking the driveway which it now just a thick sheet of ice, the power goes out, and of course there is no cell phone reception.
They have no choice but to bed down for the night. At least Muriel has plenty of beds and quilts to keep everyone warm. But everyone does not survive the night. They find in the morning that Muriel has passed away. She was in poor health but Beatrice sees she did not die of natural causes. She was murdered and they have a houseful of suspects. They are also all trapped in the house with a killer. Beatrice and the Village quilters are on the case to figure out just who is responsible for their host’s early demise.
These are some of my favorite fictional characters. Beatrice, calm, cool, collected, and just so darn nice. She can’t say “no” to anyone especially Meadow. Meadow, “bless her heart”, it is always in the right spot, but she is like “a bull in a china shop” and her brain does not filter what comes out of her mouth. Miss Sissy is battling Alzheimer’s so she has her good times and bad but she always seems to be on the right track when it comes to figuring people out. Posy is sweet as can be and she handles Miss Sissy perfectly. And when they are all stuck together, with barely enough food, the all pull out their works in progress and quilt.
The author has written a very Christie-esque mystery where all the suspects are trapped together and someone (Beatrice) figures out the Who – Why and How. It all takes place is a mansion with all the turrets and attic complete with hidden rooms and spaces. It also seems the deceased had a pretty big secret.
The was a really fun mystery to read. With the bitter wind blowing outside my own window I felt like I was right in the story with them. All I needed was the fire to warm my toes. I enjoyed this Quilt Trip very much and can’t wait for my next trip to Dappled Hills.
About This Author
Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.
Facebook: Riley Adams Author and Elizabeth Spann Craig Author.
A Someday Quilts Mystery (A Penguin Special from Plume)
Short Story (E-Book)
It’s a chance for folks unfamiliar with the Someday Quilts gang to meet them, and for fans of the series to catch up with old friends until book #5 is released in the fall of 2013.
Plume (November 13, 2012)
File Size: 725 KB
Christmas is just around the corner in the Hudson Valley. Nell and her friends at the Someday Quilts shop should be making eggnog and finishing up the stitching on their last homemade gifts, but when an arsonist strikes and a beloved teacher becomes a suspect, the ladies rally behind him to clear his good name. Will they succeed in time for him to spend Christmas among loved ones or will this be a chilly winter for the town of Archers Rest?
A holiday bonus trip to Archer’s Rest with a bit of a message too!
Just because a person is a bit of a mystery doesn’t mean there is anything sinister afoot. Charlie is a veteran who has returned after serving in Afghanistan and is now a teacher in Archer’s Rest. Nell meets him when she is doing a quilting project with the kids at the school. He doesn’t stick around while she is in his classroom even though a little teacher participation would have been appreciated. She understands he is adjusting to his non-military life but others seem to think his is strange because he keeps to himself. When his house starts on fire many suspect him of arson because his failure to acclimate to civilian life. Nell decides to get to know him a little better and maybe find the real culprit that started the fire. It is then that she learns about Charlie’s grandmother and her Cathedral Windows quilt.
A quilt has a way of bringing people together. The story behind it, the quilters that put it together, or even quilters sitting together working on their own projects. Those sewn seams can bind us together. That is what happens in this wonderful story. A perfect read for the holidays.
The Giving Quilt:
An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
20th in Series
Dutton (October 30, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 336 pages
Jacket Design by Monica Benalcazar
Jacket Quilt by Janet Miller/The City Stitcher
The week after Thanksgiving is a very special time at Elm Creek Manor. It is Quiltsgiving! A week were quilters come and make quilts to give to Project Linus.
Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson Cooper starts the week by asking the quilter’s “Why do you give?” Each quilter has their own reasons for coming to Elm Creek Manor at this time and most have trouble answering Sylvia’s question. As the week goes by they bond together making the quilts, sewing love and comfort right into each wonderful quilt. The friendships also bloom and burdens are lifted. The Giving Quilt will remind us all: Giving from the heart blesses the giver as much as the recipient, and while giving may not always be easy, it is always worthwhile.
Visiting Elm Creek Manor is like wrapping yourself in a warm cozy quilt. This story was a pure joy to read.
Chiaverini brings back all the characters we love and introduces to a wonderful new group of quilters too. She sews together their stories in a way that seems effortless and yet is so inspiring. These stories always leave me wanting to gather fabric and lose myself stitching a quilt, something I haven’t been able to do since my accident, but this story invoked another thought process all about giving. Why do I personally give and how? Can I give more?
It was Michaela’s story that really touched my heart. I immediately went in to mother mode and wanted to protect her like I would do for my own daughters. So young and so strong and then stronger through the support she found making new friends at Elm Creek. If I would have been her age, a leg in a cast, I would have never pushed ahead to attend this week long quilting event. But she does and she has given me a push I probably needed to search out ways to do sew and quilt again someday. That asking for help to do something you love is important and maybe I may never be able to do it myself again but I plan to teach my daughters and try to revive my passion and pass it on to them.
Each character is different with various problems they are facing at home. Everyone that reads this book with find one or more characters they can identify with and understand.
Find out more about Jennifer Chiaverini here.
I am chair dancing today because if you are a follower of my blog you know I have been loving the Quilting Mysteries by Terri Thayer. The latest installment Monkey Wrenchwas released just yesterday. I was so happy to get a review copy! I was even happier when Terri said “yes” to guest posting here today. So pull up a chair and help yourself to some virtual lemonade and help me welcome Terri to Escape With Dollycas.
Welcome Terri! We are so glad you are here!
Thank you Lori for inviting me.
I was reminded of how true that is while visiting Colorado. I have been here for a month at my mother’s place while she recovers from a broken hip. To get out of the house one day, I attended a meeting of the Quaking Aspen Quilt Guild as a visitor. Immediately, I felt right at home. Here was a gang of people just like me. Who loved the challenge of turning an idea, fabric and thread into a beautiful object. Who liked to talk sewing machines. Who thought spending hours and hours on a quilt project was normal. More than normal, necessary.
At home, I have plenty of gangs. My writing critique group. My book club. My out-to-lunch friends. My quilting buddies. My walking friends. Gangs keep my goals on track, inspire me with their writing or quilting, make me laugh. Laughing cures everything.
During my time here in Boulder, I’ve found more “gangs.” At the YMCA. At the Boulder Bookstore. At the Shambala Meditation Center. Connecting with others
Dewey Pellicano, my protagonist in the Quilting Mystery series, found her gang on the most unlikely place, at Quilter Paradiso, the quilt shop she inherited from her mother. She was nearly thirty and had never quilted. That was her mother’s gig, not hers. To her surprise, she loved the quilters she met. Pearl and Ina gave her the mothering she was missing. Vangie and Ursula help her out with the business end. Her regular customers inspire and entertain her. And make her laugh.
Gangs can spring up in the most unlikely places. The Internet is a wonderful place to connect with like-minded folks. Sites like Dollycas’ provide us a place to mingle with others who love mysteries. In our outdoor life, the library, the coffee shop, the gym, even the produce aisle of the grocery store can help us link up with people we admire and want to spend time with.
So follow Kurt’s—and mine—advice and get a gang.
Tell me about the gangs you already belong to.
Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing
to win my new book, Monkey Wrench.
Thank you so much Terri!!!! I hope you will visit often! It would be wonderful to have you as part of my gang!!
About This Author
Terri Thayer is the author of seven mystery novels, including the latest Quilting Mystery, Monkey Wrench. She also wrote the Stamping Sisters Mysteries for Berkley/Penguin.
You can find her at the web on Facebook (Terri Thayer, author) or Twitter @territhayer.
Listen to an April 25th interview at Creative Mojo with Mark Lipiniski at http://www.toginet.com/shows/creativemojo.
Visit her website, http://www.territhayer.com to find out more about her unique serial Block of the Month, Tales of the Quilt Shop and Sugarplums.
Now for my review:
Monkey Wrench (A Quilting Mystery)
4th in Series
Published by Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Cover Illustration by Cheryl Chalmers – The July Group
Cover Design by Lisa Novak
It’s time for the annual Quilter’s Crawl and this year Quilters Paradiso (QP) is back on the map as part of the crawl. Over the weekend quilters will travel to 12 different quilt shops in the area for special bargains and prizes. Vangie from QP has even set up a Twitter promotion to help boost sales.
Getting everything set up and organized has been quite hectic as Vangie has college classes to work around and a new boyfriend. The store’s long time teacher Pearl is starting to fail a bit so she is not as much help as Dewey was hoping she would be. Dewey will work day and night with her few available employees to make sure everything is just right.
While picking up more maps for the Crawl Dewey learns of a program at the college that places young men with elderly women call “Grand Son”. They help around the house, run errands, help with medications. She thinks this maybe just the thing to help Pearl get back to where she was and teaching classes again.
Just days before the Crawl a riot breaks out on campus as law enforcement tries to crack down on the drug problem at the collage and Vangie’s new boyfriends dies from an overdose.
As if that’s not enough, one of the Twitter promotions sets off a stampede and a customer is killed.
These events have all put a huge Monkey Wrench into Dewey’s weekend plans. Now she has to untangle the clues and piece them back together to save her store and herself and her friends.
Terri packs her pages with drama, humor, a little romance and some wild characters. We were introduced to quite a group in this edition. All the shop owners for all the Quilter’s Crawl stores, one leader very set in her ways, a few of her followers stuck in the past and not open to new ideas and a few that have wanted to evolve but not had enough courage to buck the leader. Add Dewey to the mix and watch the sparks fly. Things don’t go exactly as planned but the group pushes forward together. They become quite a gang. I hope next year’s Quilter’s Crawl is a big success hopefully without the dead bodies. With the crew you just never know.
I love that Freddy has a shop near QP and was integral in the story. I even enjoyed Kym in a small dose as she steps in to help at the shop. Anyone that has ever remodeled anything will enjoy Dewey putting her brother through the paces to get a bathroom ready and operational before the big event.
The characters in these stories have become old friends, some I like more that others but they are all entertaining. The happenings at Quilters Paridiso are sometimes a long way from Paradise but I have enjoyed every single visit more than the last. I am looking forward to my next trip to California already.
Terri is giving away a copy of Monkey Wrench (A Quilting Mystery) in a very easy giveaway!
Answer her question above in the comment section and one comment will win!
Giveaway Will End May 23rd at 11:59 p.m. CST
(A Quilting Mystery)
3rd in Series
Published by Llewellyn Publications
Cover Illustration by Cheryl Chalmers- The July Group
Cover Design by Lisa Novak
Dewey Pellicano, owner of QP (Quilter Paradiso) is in just a little over her head. In her quest to learn more about quilting since her mother left her a quilt shop she decides to attend the Sewing-By-The-Sea Symposium in Asilomar, California. Everyone there has much more quilting experience than Dewey and the conference organizer is more of a dictator than a director. She collects their cell phones and car keys, only allows the public phone to be available from 7-9 p.m., doesn’t allow anyone leave the park, the woman definitely has issues.
Dewey just wants to learn what she can, relax a little, hopefully with her man by her side and get through the week. Then she learns about a ghost that lurks around the conference, a woman goes missing, and there is a mountain lion on the loose. If that isn’t enough a valuable sewing box is stolen and then someone ends up dead.
Poor Dewey, seems trouble follows her wherever she goes. Looks like she is going to have to piece together all the clues again and figure just what is going on in this crazy quilt of murder and mayhem.
Terri has a true gift!! The twists and turns in this installment were fabulous!!!
Dewey reconnects with her brother Tony, he is a ranger at the park. The brother/sister interplay was so real and endearing. Snappy, teasing, but there for each other. Loved it. Dewey and Buster’s relationship continues to evolve as they can’t stand to be away from each other.
The author also delves into the topic of abuse, a wife being abused by her husband. She stitches it into the complex plot masterfully. She helps shed light on that an abuser can be anyone, the guy next door, a person asking for directions, someone you see everyday and would never think they would be an abusive person.
While we miss some of the characters from the quilt shop we are introduced to new ones that work their way into our hearts, plus the flamboyant Freddy is back from the first book is the series.
The next book in the series, Monkey Wrench, out May 8th, arrived in my mailbox last week. I can’t wait to see what Dewey and the QP gang are up to next.
This series continues to impress me and bring me joy. I urge you to pick one up and “Escape Into” it today!!
Old Maid’s Puzzle
(A Quilting Mystery)
2nd in the Series
Published by Midnight Ink
Dewey Pellicano is looking forward to celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Quilter Paradiso, the quilting shop left to her by her mother. Dewey never caught the quilting bug but realizes she has to learn to keep the store a sucess and as she learns so is starting to love it just as her mom did.
The quilting love goes out the back door as she finds out there is a dead body in the alley behind the store. As if she didn’t have enough problems, facing stiff competition from other stores she is barely keeping Quilter Paradiso afloat, she has an employee who happens to be her sister-in-law fighting her every step of the way and she just learned her shop is going to be featured on national television the day before the huge 20th Anniversary Sale. A dead body in the alley is not going to lure customers to her store even if it is on television. She has to scrap together everything she can to find the killer before the sale. Hopefully her hunky detective boyfriend Buster will lend her a hand.
There is just something about these books, once I start them I can’t put them down. As I said when I reviewed the first book, Wild Goose Chase, this is a fun series. Dewey is getting stronger. Her romance with Buster is developing nicely. Kym has taken her fight against progress to a whole new level. We are also getting into more of the lives of the supporting characters.
But it is the mystery of who killed the man in the alley that kept the pages turning with its several twists and turns that made me love this book. It was full of surprises and suspense. There are also parts that are laugh out loud funny. Terri has crafted another cozy both quilters and non quilters will absolutely love. I can’t wait to read Ocean Waves and Monkey Wrench comes out on May 8.
Terri Thayer is the wonderful author who wrote the Stamping Sisters Mysteries and writes the Quilting Mysteries. She is so sweet she sent me this book, the first in the Quilting Mystery series last year and I just couldn’t squeeze it into my reading schedule, not even as a Just For Fun book because last year I was giving the books I read for the challenge away as a prize. Terri wrote a personal message in the book so I will treasure it always on my keeper shelf and never give it away.
It also gave me a wake up call about my reading schedule. I had to make sure I had room to read books off my shelf for series and authors that I loved before I started blogging and receiving review copies. The Finish The Series Challenge and the Off The Shelf Challenge are also helping with this. There are two more books already released in this series Old Maid’s Puzzle and Ocean Waves with a new installment Monkey Wrench coming out May 8. In fact I am chair dancing because Terri will be here for Cozy Wednesday on May 9!!! So I will definitely be catching up on this series!!
Now let me tell you about this book. I was really getting into quilting at the time of my accident so now reading mysteries like this are a real treat!
Wild Goose Chase (A Quilting Mystery)
Published By Midnight Ink
An Imprint of Llewellyn Publications
1st in the series
Cover Illustration by Cheryl Chalmers
Cover Design by Lisa Novak
Dewey Pellicano, a computer techie, inherits her mother’s quilting shop, Quilter Paradiso. She “would rather swallow needles than be pinned down to a life of quilting.” Dewey is learning the business, trying to computerize the inventory and setting up and working at a booth at a national quilting show. Her employee who happens to be her sister-in-law is driving her crazy as she does not support anything Dewey is doing and just wants Dewey to back to her computer life and leave her alone to run the store.
Then at the quilting show, quilting celebrity, Claire Armstrong, seems like an answer to prayer when she offers to buy the shop. Unfortunately, the famous quilter is found dead before Dewey can accept her offer. Enter a handsome man from Dewey’s past, homicide detective, Buster Healy. Romance was the last thing she on Dewey’s mind. Then another murder happens while Buster and Dewey are away having a very emotional lunch. She realizes there is no way her life can move forward until she can piece together the clues and to help catch the killer, hoping not to become the next victim.
This is a wonderful debut to what looks to be a really fun series. Dewey is dealing with so much, her mother’s passing, a sister-in-law that I wanted to leap into the pages and shake a few times, a brother caught in the middle and trying to keep her mother’s legacy alive in a realm that is almost foreign to her.
I was taught to sew by my mother and when other girls were getting cedar chests for graduation gifts I received a sewing table and cabinet. Dewey was never drawn into the sewing and quilting world, although she should love the awesome computerized sewing machines available today. Maybe in a future book.
Terri has created a very complex character in Dewey. Her sister-in-law Kym really pushed my buttons as well as Dewey’s. I am reserving my opinion of her until I get to know her better in future installments. Buster is also a definite character to watch as we see how his relationship with Dewey evolves. The supporting cast of quilters, shop owners, and even security guards at the quilt show were colorful, quirky and added depth and humor to give this series the perfect foundation.
Wild Goose Chase is a mystery as sharp as a rotary cutter. Curl up under your favorite quilt and Enjoy!!
**Before my accident I looked forward to every Spring when Nancy’s Notions held their annual sewing weekend that includes a smaller version of the quilting show featured in this story. The seminars and shopping are excellent!! I saved up all year for that weekend. It is May 3 -5 this year and I can’t remember how many years it has been going on, but I haven’t attended for the past 11 years but went to many before that. If you live near Beaver Dam, Wisconsin or are an avid sewer/quilter it is definitely an awesome event to attend.