Posted in Thoughts

Cover Reveal – First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

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First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen
Published by Viking
Release Date: October 16, 2014
Available for Pre-Order Now!
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0525427247
Kindle: ASIN: B00ISEONAS
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A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true
authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

Find out more about Charlie Lovett on his webpage here.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Giveaways Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2014 What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Special Guest Mystery Author Keith McCafferty (Giveaway too!)

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Today my Special Guest is Keith McCafferty, author of The Royal Wulff Murders, The Gray Ghost Murders, and the new Dead Man’s Fancy. When I was sent the first book for review I wasn’t sure if this non-fishing lady was gong to like it but I did. It stirred up memories of my grandfather who was an avid  fisherman. The writing also drew me right into the story.  You can read my whole review here. The next book in this series made my Best Reads of 2013. Review here. When I saw there was a new book coming in January I just had to reach out to the publisher to see if Keith would stop be for a visit. I was surprised and thrilled when he said YES!!

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The Writer and the Philosopher’s Stone

            A long time ago in a mountain range not far from home, I shouldered a backpack to go hunting.  At the time my family very much depended upon the year’s worth of venison an elk would provide, and my method of collecting it was to pick up a track and follow, sometimes for days, sleeping in scoops of snow where elk had slept before me, until I had meat to pack off the mountain.  On one such night a pack of wolves were persistent in their serenade, and though I knew I had nothing to fear from them, I built up my fire, as much for company as for warmth, and sat up long into the night. The next morning I found that my right eye was irritated, which I attributed to the smoke from the fire.  As the sun rose the irritation increased until the pain became unbearable.  I had to shut the eye, and then, as the pelt of snow glistened in the daylight, I had to shut the other eye as well, and thus I was rendered snow-blind on the cold breast of a mountain wilderness.

            dead man's fancyI had occasion to recall this experience last week, when a severe corneal abrasion left me similarly impaired and I spent several days sitting with my eyes closed and the blinds drawn. My wife told me to quit feeling sorry for myself and make use of the down time thinking out the plot of the novel I was working on, which is the fourth book in the Sean Stranahan series.  She might as well have asked me to solve the riddle of alchemy by creating the philosopher’s stone, and so discover the secret of turning lead into gold. For I am one of those instinctive writers who seems to be incapable of sketching out plot lines, either in my head or on paper.  The story flows from my fingers; it is not formed in the brain, at least not in a region of which I am conscious. In this regard I am of the school of writing my literary agent, Dominick Abel, calls the “muddler throughers.” I start with an idea, usually an opening scene.  I write a first sentence, the second is coaxed by hook or by crook, the third by spade or by providence, and in this manner I write the entire novel.

            It is an exercise in sequential thinking and, in my case, a form of therapy. For in so-called real life, my mind does not operate in a linear progression of thoughts or synapses.  My reading habits are a good example. I read a novel by flipping it open to a random page, read a sentence or two, skip to another page, maybe read the last paragraph, maybe then read the first, and so on until I have read every sentence, though not in any particular order.  This makes most books a disappointment.  In a technical sense I have read them. But I have no idea what they are about.

            P1030692Now one of the occupational hazards of being a novelist is that readers, and especially aspiring writers, ask you to put into words the magic formula of novel writing, to reveal to them the philosopers stone, as it were, of turning words, the building blocks of language, into story.  I knew I might be asked this very question at a reading I was scheduled to give at Bozeman, Montana’s wonderful independent bookstore, the Country Bookshelf, provided I recovered from my eye injury.  And having been on a number of author panels where I was called on to expound upon the craft, I knew I couldn’t just say, well, I muddle my way through.  So I had an answer prepared, thanks to E.L. Doctorow, who famously  compared writing to driving a car at night.  “You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

  Keith snowy Gallatin          Then I thought of the wolves and it dawned on me that my experience of going snow-blind was an equally apt metaphor for the way that I and many other writers work. The howling was the inspiration (in the case of my latest novel, Dead Man’s Fancy, it was quite literally so, for wolves were howling in the first sentence). And the process of writing a novel is to me reminiscent of the progression of snow-blindness.  Before the sun rises, you can see clearly some small distance, enough to know where to place your feet, just as at the beginning of a novel, I have a fairy clear idea of its direction over the first few chapters. But then the snow-blindness hits and the writer must work through the heart of the story in the manner in which I hiked out of the mountains that day, by squeezing open one eye for a second to see down the path 10 or 20 feet, then closing the eye and walking blindly in that direction several paces, and repeating the process, mile after mile, hoping I didn’t stumble into too many trees or over too many rocks.  Towards the end of that interminably long day, as night once more claimed the mountains, the irritation in my eyes diminished and I was able to see a little better, a little farther down the path.  So, too, it is with the novel.  As the writer nears the end, the trail is finally to be seen again and he can work more confidently in that  direction. It is the long blind slog through the middle of the book that makes one want to take an elk rifle to his forehead.

           Keith fishing headon At the bookstore reading, I told the story of going snow-blind, which the audience seemed to appreciate, and then talked a while about the more pragmatic aspects of writing, the overriding importance of character in the series novel, how plot is to pace as lyrics are to music, the fact that narrative non-fiction is driven by the declarative sentence where fiction is driven by dialogue, and so on.  All relevant, but what I failed to address, and which I had spent a great deal of time thinking about before my eye recovered (fortunately on the morning of the reading), was the alchemy, the magic that leads the snow-blind writer through the heart of the novel.  I have said that I write through my fingers and conscious thought plays little part in the process.  But what about the subconscious?

            My series protagonist, Sean Stranahan, is a fisherman, and I recall writing a passage in The Royal Wulff Murders. my first book, in which he says that he would never make a serious decision without first turning it over with a fly rod in hand.  In the second novel, The The Gray Ghost Murders. he arrives at a different conclusion.

            “For years, Sean Stranahan had told anyone who cared to ask that the reason he went fishing was to think.  On the river, Keith McCaffertythoughts didn’t pile on top of each other as they tended to when his feet were on land.  Rather, his mind became elastic, adapting itself to the creative demands of catching trout. Sean would never make an important decision in life without turning it over with a fly rod in his hand.  But lately, it seemed, he came to the river for the opposite reason.  He fished to erase the burden of thought, to immerse himself in the moment, and to find recognition in his reflection on the surface of the water — to see there the boy he had been.  For the wonder of fishing had nothing to do with the spots or the sheen of a trout’s  flanks, but its ability to pull the angler back through time until he was no longer what the world had made of him, but who he was when that world was new.

            It is my suspicion that something similar happens in the magic of writing.  The alchemy that turns the lead of words into the gold of story is nothing to be seen or conjured.  Rather than shine from the riverbed or in the conscious working of the mind, the philosopher’s stone resides deep within, with neither shape nor color, where it works to wash away the masks of personality and courtesy and cunning that are the second skins we have developed to deal with the complexities of life, so that we might rediscover what is original and true about ourselves.  I believe that our job as writers is to tap into that process and then simply to stand aside and let the story emerge on the page, without affectation or indulgence of craft.  To the extent we are able to accomplish this, so stands the measure of our novels.

            As for the rest, it is just hard sailing and long hours, preferably with two eyes open.

 ~Keith

Keith after reading this I understand why I love your writing “how plot is to pace as lyrics are to music,” that is just they way I feel about your stories. They read with an almost the ebb and flow of a melody.  I hope you will visit again soon!

 

About This Author
keith mccaffertyKeith McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Gray’s Sporting Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globe–he recently spent a month in India trekking the Himalayas, fishing for golden mahseer and studying tigers–Keith has won numerous awards, including the Robert Traver Award for angling literature. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award.  Find out more about Keith and his books on his webpage here.


dead man's fancy
Dead Man’s Fancy:
A Sean Stranahan Mystery

3rd in Series
Mystery
Viking (January 2, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670014699
E-Book File Size: 1191 KB
ASIN: B00DMCPQXE
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Wolves howl as a riderless horse returns at sunset to the Culpepper Dude Ranch in the Madison Valley. The missing woman, Nanika Martinelli, is better known as the Fly Fishing Venus, a red-haired river guide who lures clients the way dry flies draw trout.

As Sheriff Martha Ettinger follows hoof tracks in the snow, she finds one of the men who has fallen under the temptress’s spell impaled on the antler tine of a giant bull elk, a kill that’s been claimed by a wolf pack. An accident? If not, is the killer human or animal? With painter, fly fisherman, and sometimes private detective Sean Stranahan’s help, Ettinger will follow clues that point to an animal rights group called the Clan of the Three-Clawed Wolf and to their svengali master, whose eyes blaze with pagan fire.

In their most dangerous adventure yet, Stranahan and Ettinger find themselves in the crossfire of wolf lovers, wolf haters, and a sister bent on revenge, and on the trail of an alpha male gone terribly wrong.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Another wonderful read from Keith McCafferty!

This story has so many layers and the author brings them all together with the melodic quality I have to come to expect from him.

Sean Stranahan is just an awesome character. A fly fisherman who loves nature, animals, fish and fowl. He lives most of the year in a tipi. He is a an very easy going guy, who paints and has found himself to be quite a private investigator even though he is techy challenged. He hates carrying a cell phone and when he does it is rarely on. He investigates the old fashioned way. He talks to people and then heads to a river for a bit of fishing to ponder over what they have told him. Surprisingly he can make all the pieces fall into place to solve the crime.

Sheriff Martha Ettinger is the perfect woman for Sean. If they could just realize it themselves. They work well together and see eye to eye on most subjects. One would be truly lost without the other.

The theme that drives this story it the wolf debate taking place out West. I have to stay the author tells both sides of the story very well without being political or preachy. He has created a very captivating mystery that involve parties on both sides. 

What I like best about Keith McCafferty stories is his writing style. The characters jump right off the pages. His descriptive quality not only brings the human characters to life but the setting as well. His builds a story that just ebbs and flows and then the clues start to come together and the pages fly. I had an inkling to what was really happening but with the twists I was never sure if I was on the right track.  I love books like this. 

Controversy, revenge, mystery, extremists, murder, deception, trauma, drama…this story has all that and more. 

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 1 copy of Dead Man’s Fancy
Plus a Paperback copy of The Gray Ghost Murders too!!

ALL FOR ONE WINNER!!

I will also giveaway my hardcover review copy of Dead Man’s Fancy!!

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.

Leave a comment for Keith for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End February 7, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

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

Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2013

Special Guest – Author of The Lemon Orchard – Luanne Rice (Giveaway too!)

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the lemon orchard

I am thrilled to have Luanne stop by today for a little interview!

Picture courtesy of Penguin Publishing
Picture courtesy of Penguin Publishing

1. This novel is very much a love story between two people from completely different worlds – Julia is an affluent American living in Malibu and Roberto is Mexican, living in California illegally. What inspired you to create such a unique relationship? How were these characters able to overcome their differences?

Roberto is inspired by someone I know. Both characters have lost daughters. No matter how different the external facts of their lives may be, inside their feelings of grief and desire are the same. They drop the labels and connect as human beings.

2. The Lemon Orchard is set in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains of Malibu, where you live now. What is it about this landscape that inspired you to set your novel there?

After a lifetime of living on the east coast I found myself moving to California. This surprised me and everyone I know. But I’d been in the city for too long and craved the ocean, mountains, nature. I have a lemon tree in my yard, and the air smells of salt and coastal sage. That one lemon tree became an orchard in my imagination.

3. I have read that during the writing of The Lemon Orchard you were inspired by music. Can you tell us a bit about the music that inspired you?

I listened to a lot of Mexican and Irish music, and songs about immigration. The music put me in touch with my Irish roots, and reminded me of the immigrants in my own family. I listened to the albums San Patricio by Ry Cooder and the Chieftains, The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, and The Crossing by Tim O’Brien. The friend who inspired Roberto played me love songs by Juan Gabriel. I asked friends for favorite music about immigration and Becky suggested Americano by Lady Gaga and Orphan Train by Alison Moorer. You can listen to the whole playlist at Spotify: http://spoti.fi/11GRucd

4. When you get the chance to curl up with a book what type of book would we find you reading? Do you have a favorite author?

A few books I’ve been reading lately are Sparta by Roxana Robinson, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell, The Long Shore by Jane Hollister Wheelwright and Lynda Wheelwright Schmidt, and Rockall by Amelia Onorato.

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

I’d go to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and touch that fragile environment, then to Laguna San Ignacio where California gray whales migrate each winter, then to the little town near Puebla, Mexico, where “Roberto” is from and I’d see the volcanos Popocatepetl and Iztacciihuatl from the fields where he worked, then to Zimbabwe to see where a young friend was born and lived till she was 10. As for what the book would be about…I’ll tell you when I get back!

Thank you Luanne for letting us see about the author
behind the pages of this wonderful story!

the lemon orchard

The Lemon Orchard
Pamela Dorman Books
Viking (July 2, 2013)
Published by the Penguin Group
Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover: 304 Pages
ISBN-13 978-0670025275
E-Book File Size: 637 KB
ASIN: B00AEBESK8
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In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
What a moving story! Two people brought together through fate only to realize how much they have in common and how they can rescue each other from the fragmented lives they are living.

Luanne Rice describes time, place and circumstances so perfectly that our minds can see in detail each cacti needle, grain of sand, and tear shed. I felt like I was there or at the very least watching a movie instead of reading a book. I was thirsty just reading Roberto and Rosa’s long journey through the desert and could smell the fires that were burning in the canyon.

The Lemon Orchard is a multifaceted story and very timely with a focus on immigration and what people do to provide the best lives possible for their family. Interwoven are losses of both Julia and Roberto with just a thread of hope. Their friendship turns romantic at the perfect pace. 

I reached the last page way too quickly and can only hope and pray that some time in the future Rice will bless us with a sequel.

This is a book that should be on everyone’s summer reading lists.  An entertaining story that will make a lasting impression on everyone that reads it. 

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Luanne Rice visit here webpage here.
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Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?

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

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

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

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

Contest Will End July 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

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

Posted in E-Book Challenge Literary Escapes Reviews 2013

Review: The Gray Ghost Murders by Keith McCafferty

GRAY GHOST MURDERS

The Gray Ghost Murders: A Novel
2nd in Series
Mystery/Suspense
Viking (February 21, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670025695
E-Book File Size: 634 KB
ASIN: B008EKMDC6

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Montana’s favorite fly fisherman detective is back on the case in this compelling follow-up to The Royal Wulff Murders…

Two bodies have been found on Sphinx Mountain, and Sheriff Martha Ettinger suspects murder, but she needs more details and some evidence wouldn’t hurt. She again needs the help of private investigator Sean Stranahan. He has already been nosing around the area on another case. He’s been hired by The Madison River Liars and Fly Tiers Club, a group of fly-fishermen, who have reported some very valuable flies stolen. Could the disappearance of a vintage Gray Ghost fly from a riverside cabin in the Madison Valley be connected to the gray ghosts who haunt Sphinx Mountain? Sean is determined to find out even if it means questioning a Congressman and putting himself in the line of fire.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I love the way Keith McCafferty writes. Last year I reviewed The Royal Wulff Murders, his descriptive style and melodic flow drew me right into the story. He continues right where he left off in this sequel.

“For the wonder of a trout had nothing to do with its spots or the sheen of its flanks, but its ability to pull the angler back through time until he was no longer what the world had made of him, but who he was when the world was new.”

He also crafted a wonderful mystery with full rich characters that jump right off the page. From the young boy to the men nearing the end of their lives, their individual stories shine but still blend together in a story that is about so much more than fly fishing. The strong women in this story are also so well written.

In addition to the beautiful Big Sky Country pictures McCafferty draws with his words there is suspense, chills, and surprises peppered with a bit of humor and even a little romance. You don’t need to know a thing about fly fishing to enjoy this mystery although if you do, you will love this book. I liked this one even more than the last one and the only fish I catch comes from the grocery store. 

I sure hope the author has the third installment in this series in the works. I wish I could start reading it today!!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
keith mccaffertyKeith McCafferty is the Survival and Outdoor Skills Editor of Field & Stream. He has written articles for publications as diverse as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Mother Earth News, Gray’s Sporting Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and on subjects ranging from mosquitoes to wolves to mercenaries and exorcism. Based in Montana and working on assignment around the globe–he recently spent a month in India trekking the Himalayas, fishing for golden mahseer and studying tigers–Keith has won numerous awards, including the Robert Traver Award for angling literature. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Find out more on his blog here. Like him on 25 (2)

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.”

GRAY GHOST MURDERSreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d02013where are you reading2013EbookChallenge

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Giveaways Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2013

Special Guest – Beth Hoffman – Author of Looking For Me (Review & Giveaway too!)

I selected this post to be featured on Blog Nation. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

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beth hoffman

 

Beth Hoffman’s first novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, was a New York Times Bestseller both in hardcover and paperback. I am positive her 2nd one, Looking for Me, will make that list too. The American Booksellers Association has named it to The June 2013 Indie Next List.

I am thrilled to post a little Q & A session with this wonderful author.

saving ceceLFM

1.) After the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, how did you come up with the idea for Looking for Me?

When I finished touring with CeeCee, I had no idea what I would write. The characters had become so real to me that I felt guilty abandoning them to craft a different story. I especially had a hard time not continuing on with Oletta. For several months I shut down all thoughts about writing.

One day I sat at my desk and began going through stacks of old photographs. The more I sorted, the more I thought about my family and my childhood on the farm—how simple and uncomplicated life was, how much I missed the big old barn and the woodlands that backed up to the fields. I stared out the window and spent a good deal of time reliving those days, and while I was caught up in the nostalgia, something flashed in my periphery. I turned to see a red-tailed hawk land on a tree branch. I watched the morning light glaze across his pale chest, and how, just before he settled, he spread his rusty-red tail feathers to reveal the full spectrum of his regalia. I got a bit teary at the beauty of him, and then …WHAM! I had the beginning of my story.

2.) You always write so beautifully about your novels’ settings, making the reader feel like they’re being transported to another place. With Looking for Me, did you decide on the location of the novel—Charleston—first, or did that come later? Did you spend a lot of time there?

I write about places I love, places to which I feel a deep connection. I wanted would write about a farm family, and when the character of Teddi took form and she fell in love with the process of antique restoration, I knew Charleston was where she would ultimately end up. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Charleston and feel incredibly comfortable there. In many ways it’s like a second home to me. Plus, with Charleston’s history of antiques shops and gorgeous architecture, it was the ideal juxtaposition to Teddi’s life on the farm.

3.) You write very personally about the novel’s other main setting, the Overman farm in Kentucky. Being a Kentuckian yourself, do you have a strong connection to Red River Gorge?

The Overman farm comes from my roots and my heart. Nothing makes me happier or causes a flood of memories like setting my feet on farmland. I chose the location of Red River Gorge as the backdrop to the farm for many reasons—its mystery and power are palpable, and it’s so stunning that no matter how many times I’m there, I’m always awestruck. Known for its incredible rock formations, dense forests, waterfalls and wildlife, Red River Gorge was the perfect place for the character of Josh to be swept into the romance of the wild. Paleo-Indians thrived there, and it holds a treasure trove of petroglyphs. Every time I ride the gondola up to Natural Bridge and stand on that massive, nine hundred ton sandstone bridge, I feel connected to something far beyond my comprehension. Over 70 million years of changing weather has sculpted Red River Gorge into a place as magical as it is eerie.

4.) Looking for Me touches on the power of objects—through them we remember our past and face our future—what are some objects that have held meaning for you in your own life? Do you think it’s important to hold onto the things of our past?

By nature I’m a neat-nut and about as opposite to a hoarder as anyone could be, so I’m not inclined to keep things unless they truly have strong meaning to me. I do think it’s wise to keep things that hold memories like family heirlooms, books, photographs and letters, but there’s a fine line between keeping what is precious or sentimental, and overloading my basement and attic with stuff.

5.) The characters in Looking for Me seem as real as neighbors that live next door—what do you draw on when writing characters? How much do you borrow from real life? Do you model your characters on people you know?

The characters in my novels arrive in my imagination fully realized. Not only do I see them and hear them, but I also get a strong sense of their spirit. While a few characters might have small similarities to people I’ve known, the majority of them have come to me as the story unfolds. More often than not, I meet them just as my readers meet them. It’s a fascinating process.

6.) Birds and feathers play an important role in this story—where did your interest in birds come from, and what do they symbolize in your work?

Nature, animals and birds have enthralled me for all my life. My parents and grandparents had a deep respect for nature and all her creatures, and from a very early age I was taught to be gentle and kind. One of my first memories is of standing in the vegetable garden with my grandma and having her show me how to gently lift a toad and move him out of the way of the strawberry wagon. By the time I was five, I could name nearly every bird that visited our farm, not only by sight, but also by their songs. I viewed birds as beautiful messengers, and as a teen, I loved reading Native American folklore, which is rich with stories about birds and their spirits.

7.) This is your second novel—what advice do you have for writers and novelists just starting out? How did you find your own voice as a novelist?

Captivating storytelling is a gift—good writing is an art. By understanding how to combine those elements, a writer can save themselves from a whole lot of headaches. There are many books that can help a writer hone their talent, but voice comes from a deep place and cannot be discovered without having an inner ear. I say inner ear because writers must hear their voice come alive and rise from the page, and it must always ring true. Being a good listener helps a writer find his/her voice. By tuning our inner ear to catch voice inflections, mood, and the many subtleties of dialect, our own writing voice is strengthened. I believe the best way for a writer to know if they’ve found their unique voice is for them read aloud something they’ve written. Voice is a complex thing to achieve, but once a writer hears it, they’ll know that they’ve just captured the most illusive butterfly of all.

To find out more about Beth Hoffman visit her web page here.
You can also find her on :
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LFM

Looking for Me
Contemporary Fiction
A Pamela Dorman Book
Viking (May 28, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670025831
E-Book File Size: 661 KB
ASIN: B00AFPVNQ0

Teddi dragged home her first antique before she even reached her teens. With the help of her grandmother she fixed up that chair and her passion for making old things new again was born. With a little help from her father she is able to leave Kentucky after high school and head to South Carolina and eventually becomes the owner of her very own antique store.

She builds a life for herself there but she keeps being drawn back to her home in Kentucky. Her little brother disappeared into thin air several years ago when he was just 17. He was a very special young man with a very special gift. He had such a natural way with animals, especially birds, and a true passion for saving them along with their habitats. If he wouldn’t have disappeared Teddi was sure he would have been a Park Ranger.

When signs emerge that her brother may still be alive she returns home again and tries to come to grips with what she learns about her shattered family. She may even find herself after all these years.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Beth Hoffman is a gifted storyteller. She takes us on Teddi’s life long journey where she yearns to find her brother but in truth is looking for herself.

These characters jump off the page and write into your heart. While Teddi is the main character the supporting characters are rich and superbly written as well. I have to be careful not to give too much away so I will say each and every character is multifaceted and the reader is allowed to peel back the layers as the story evolves. Hoffman moves back and forth between present and past effortlessly.

Teddi’s brother, Josh, collected bird feathers which he studied extensively. Different wings mean different things. Josh would give feathers to Teddi and as she was packing for South Carolina she opened a drawer and found a feather with a note that said:

“From the highest branch he watches and waits.
The horned owl keeps secrets.”

These little bits of wisdom and feather folklore are a thread that continues through the entire story. Some are quite profound and thought provoking. A few really struck me as relevant not only to the story but my own life.  

This is a story about family and friendship,  love and  loss, hope and dreams. It is also about the choices made during our lifetimes and how we deal with life’s up and downs. Not only did Teddi find herself, I also found a bit more about myself in these pages. Be warned you may shed a few tears but you will also be sharing a few smiles as well.

A wonderful heartwarming and inspiring story. Definitely one of the best I have read this year. 10 Starfish!!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH5 STARFISH

 

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

1 Direct From The Publisher (U.S. Only)
and
My Gently Read Review Copy. (U.S. and Canada)

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

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

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

LFMreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d02013where are you reading

Posted in Reviews 2013

Review: Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French

Tuesdays Gone

Tuesday’s Gone:
A Frieda Klein Novel

2nd in Series
Psychological Thriller
Pamela Dorman Books (April 4, 2013)
Viking
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670025671
E-Book File Size: 813 KB
ASIN: B008EKOO0A

Tuesday's Gone: A Frieda Klein Novel

In this follow up to Blue Monday psychotherapist Frieda Klein returns to help Chief Inspector Karlsson. A London social worker making a routine home visit discovers her client serving tea to a naked decomposing corpse. Frieda is asked to help identify the man and what she finds is a complex web of lies and half truths that all eventually seem to connect back to her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As I have come to expect from Nicci French this story is a complex puzzle with dynamic characters and ongoing tension just beneath the surface.

There is so much happening in this story. More layers are pealed away as we get to know more about our protagonist, Frieda Klein. She seems to keep making headlines as a book is released about a former case and Frieda is portrayed in a very poor light. All the officers involved in the current case are not happy to have her consulting as she believes there is much more to the case than meets the eye. She is also very conflicted about the course of her personal life as a new man appears to be interested but she hasn’t dealt with her feeling for a former love that moved away.

Michelle Doyce has been placed in a mental institution but Frieda was able to determine the identity of her guest for tea. But “Robert Poole” seems to be a con man who had ran scams on several people including a nice elderly woman. She was lonely after losing her husband and her sons only visited when they needed something, like her money. She was the perfect choice for a man like “Bob”.  Bob turns out to be quite an enigma.

Josef and Reuben also return in this installment. Josef has returned from Kiev with an enormous weight upon his shoulders and both Frieda and Reuben are both trying to be supportive.

As I said the whole story is a complex puzzle and not everything falls into place before that last page. I found myself reading this story very slowly to catch every nuance and clue and I am still not sure I caught them all. It is best to read these books in order because they do build off of each other. Then you will be like me. impatiently Waiting for Wednesday.

just you and a friend 4 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Nicci French check out this website.

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_zps01d248d0

Posted in Literary Escapes Reviews 2012

Review: Broken Harbor by Tana French

Broken Harbor: A Novel
Viking (July 24, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mystery
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670023653

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)

Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is the top detective in the Murder Squad. He is now partnered with rookie Richie Curran, just out of uniform. Kennedy has dropped down to #2 in solve rates in his department. Then he is handed what should be a dream case.

Patrick Spain and his two children are found dead in one of the half-built/half abandoned “luxury developments” in a place called Brainstown. His wife Jenny is in intensive care.

What was first thought to be an easy case turns out to be a lot harder when too many clues can’t be explained.

The neighborhood used to be called Broken Harbor and Kennedy’s family has a little history with the place. His sister Dina freaks out when she sees the case on the news. She is remembering something about the summer they spent there as kids. Something “Scorcher” thought was deeply buried.

Kennedy has his hands full as he tries to solve the case and keep his sister safe and out of trouble.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I was so looking forward to reading this book. It really had me well past halfway but then it just seemed to fall apart.

This book is a police procedural type story which I usually find very interesting. This one started really good but after the middle is really started to drag and got boring. Yes, boring. I found myself barely skimming through the pages just to get to the end. I had figured out who-dun-it very early on and all the dialogue, tons of dialogue was just filling pages to tell readers what we already knew. Then at the end there were still so many questioned answered. Almost 500 pages and we are left to wonder about so much.

What really upset me was when the lead character started to make some choices a man in his position would never make. A law and order guy would not risk his career this way.

As far as the other characters, his other sister Geri just seems to be too lackadaisical about their sister, Dina, with the mental heath issues. Dina was just plain annoying. My verdict is still out on the rookie Curran, he could develop into a solid character in a future installment.

I have enjoyed other French novels and by the end of this one I was even questioning if she had really written this story. I got to the end and realized I really knew nothing about Mike Kennedy. The man had absolutely no real back story. His life was his job occasionally uninterrupted by his crazy sister.

I know Tana French is a much better writer than this and I hope her next book is shorter and full of the dynamic characters and the thrills I know she can deliver.

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.”

Posted in E-Book Challenge Giveaways Reviews 2012

Little Night by Luanne Rice Review & Giveaway

 

Little Night: A Novel
Pamela Dorman Books
Viking
Published by The Penguin Group
Release Date: June 5, 2012

How far would you go to protect your sister? What if you do protect you sister and she tells lies that don’t backup your story?

That’s exactly what happened to Clare Burke. She tried to help Anne leave the husband that was abusing her and ended up being charged with assault. The verdict largely hinged on her sister’s defense of her spouse. She stuck with her abusive husband and her testimony was all lies. Clare ended up in prison.

Even after she was released the sisters remained estranged. Her sister has moved to Denmark where her husband was born and raised. Clare is living in Manhattan, writing her blog about the birds of Central Park. A very quiet life compared to her life before. Her relationship with fellow birder Paul has been sorely tested over the years and they have not been able to reconcile. They have tried to remain friends.

Almost twenty years after the incident that sent her to jail Clare is surprised when her niece, Grit, shows up on her doorstep. Grit has always wanted a relationship with her aunt. She knew the kind of man her father was and she remembered how Clare tried to help. As they work hard to develop that relationship they must face the wounds inflicted upon them by Anne as she stayed by her husband’s side. Healing is difficult for both of them but together they hope they can get by the physical and emotional scars left from the pain they have both suffered. They still hold out hope that Anne will her leave husband and return to her family and friends who really love her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Written in true Luanne Rice style we are taken inside a very complex family situation that has us reeling. The physical and emotion abuse that splits Anne off from her own family is tragic and when it continues on to her own son and daughter is even more disturbing. Tempered by her wonderful descriptions of nature, the birds and the bogs we are given a bit of a rest from the extreme family drama. Rice is an expert of creating the ebbs and flows necessary for a story as powerful as this one. I have never been to Central Park but after reading this book I almost feel like I have.

We received a sneak peek at these characters in How We Started that was released for Kindle on May 1. The story of how Clare and Paul met was perfect before delving into this story that was so heartbreaking. In a split second Clare and Paul’s lives changed forever. She pushes him away when she is in prison and tells him to get on with his life. Even when released her heart is so closed off she is afraid to let anyone in. The arrival of Grit helps her start the healing process and her niece tries to move forward as well. 

This is the 30th novel from Luanne Rice. It is fresh and original and just plain outstanding. Another one for the keeper shelf because  you will definitely want to read it more than once.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
Central Park from Rockefeller Center

Thanks to the people at Viking I have another brand new copy of

and a brand new paperback copy of

The Silver Boat: A Novel

to giveaway!!

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

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

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

Contest Will End June 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners 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.”

Posted in Giveaways

VERY SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!!! Featuring Books by Luanne Rice!!!!

Luanne is getting ready for the release of her 30th novel!

Little Night, which deals with themes of domestic violence and how it affects the entire family, has already garnered fantastic pre-pub buzz including a starred Publishers Weekly review which calls the book “poetic and stirring” and a starred Library Journal review calling it an “outstanding read that both chills and warms the soul.”

In winter 2012, Luanne interviewed women whose lives have been touched by abuse. Three women told their stories on camera, including Luanne, who was in an abusive marriage herself.

One of the stories is shared in this video.


Luanne’s last book, The Silver Boat, is coming out in paperback on May 29th. You can read my review here.

 

There is also a new book available now on Kindle for just $1.99. Two original stories featuring characters from The Silver Boat and Little Night.

How We Started

In these stories, bestselling author Luanne Rice gives her readers two tales of early love and longing. “Paul and Clare” introduces the heroine of her upcoming novel, Little Night, and offers a glimpse into how she met the love of her life—and the beginning of her life-long passion for birds and nature, even in New York City. “Miss Martha’s Vineyard” is a snapshot of the quirky, unconditional friendship with larger-than-life blueblood Harrison Thaxter that has kept Rory McCarthy from The Silver Boat afloat even in rough romantic seas.

I will be posting my review of this book soon.

The people at VIKING are being really generous!!
They are offering a copy of both Little Night 
and
a copy of The Silver Boat for giveaway!!
The winner will receive both books in advance of their on-sale dates!

This is exciting!!!
If you have already read The Silver Boat don’t pass this giveaway by,
you could share your winning copy with a friend!

Entering is easy, you just have to be a follower of
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book!

Contest ends at 12:01 a.m. EST on May 13.

Good Luck!!!
Continue reading “VERY SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!!! Featuring Books by Luanne Rice!!!!”

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Giveaways Literary Escapes Reviews 2012

Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli Review and Giveaway

Glow: A Novel
VIKING
Published by The Penguin Group
Available Today!

This story spans the years 1836 to 1941 following the female descendants of Solomon Bounds.

Amelia McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, is an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP and when her home was vandalized in the middle of the night she decides to put her eleven year old daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia from Washington, D.C. But when the local bus is out of commission Ella is left walking the last part of her journey. She is preyed on by two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road with just her dog.

Ella is found by Willa Mae Cotton, a former slave and Mary-Mary Freeborn. They take her back to their cabin to nurse her back to health. While there she learns the secrets of her lineage, she is the youngest of Solomon Bounds kin.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is a poignant narrative of an important time in history.  In 2012 we are still talking about race, it is still a hot button issue even as we have the first president of mixed race.

The author takes us on a journey through Solomon Bounds family tree and each branch and leaf gets to tell us their part of the story. White, African-American, Native American, even mixed together, they all have their own voice in this family. Their words have a lyrical quality that makes the story real and engaging.

It is a story full of history and local customs of the Northeast Georgia. The settings of the mountains and forests surrounding the story are described lovingly, as is the weather endured, the heat, the winds, and the rain.

The theme throughout is love, a mother’s love for her child, the lengths we go to to maintain that relationship as well the other relationships in our lives, even relationships that society would deem forbidden. The women in this adventure are very strong and continue to grow throughout their story.

Again, I am amazed that this is a debut novel for this author. She is definitely an author to watch.

This is a beautifully composed novel spanning over 100 years, the readers will definitely see and feel the “Glow”.



Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the wonderful people at Viking
I have 2 copies of this book to give away!!

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

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

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

Contest Will End March 29, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners 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.”