Jan 222016
 

9WbGnJTR

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

driving sidewaysDriving Sideways: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin/Road Trip West
Ballantine Books (May 20, 2008)
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345501103
E-Book ASIN: B00199B2XU
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Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

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

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

Dollycas’s Thoughts

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

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

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

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

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

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

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

You can follow her on Facebook here.


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

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

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

Click Here For Entry Form

~This book was from by personal collection.~

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Dec 292015
 

almost alwaysAlmost Always
PageSpring Publishing (January 12, 2013)
Contemporary Woman’s Fiction
Setting – Ohio
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939403032
E-Book ASIN: B00AR93X1C
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Here’s the way Eva sees it: if John is so concerned about her butting into strangers’ lives, he shouldn’t leave her sitting at a table in Bob Evans with nothing to occupy her time . . . Enter Cecelia—a pregnant teenager who needs a family for her baby. Fate has placed her at the table behind Eva and John. Now Eva has a chance—a chance to give her daughter, Shelly, the one thing Shelly desperately wants. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Because sometimes daughters are not born to us—they are gifted by desperate teenagers—or seated behind us at Bob Evans . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I will admit I picked this book up because I thought it going to be more of a Christmas story looking at the cover. A gingerbread house does play a part in the story but this more of a year round story.

I would find it difficult to be Eva’s child and hope I am never a mom like her. I know it is a in mother’s nature to always want to fix things, but sometimes Eva just goes too far. She does have a huge heart and thinks she is doing the right things and that her way is the best way but they way she butts her way in to certain situations drove me a little nuts.  Eva happens to overhear a conversation in a restaurant, a pregnant teenager talking to her friend. She immediately decides it is fate and this girl is going to give her baby up to Eva’s daughter who has been trying to adopt a child. We follow on Eva on her journey to make that happen.

It is a very heartwarming story in places and aggravating in others but a very compelling read none the less. Eva is a complicated character with many layers. While I didn’t like her overbearing qualities she was very real. There are many moms in this world just like her. She has a good heart, helps her friends and neighbors, but could have been more supportive of her husband and a little more understanding of her daughter’s wishes. She does open her heart and home to Cecelia and they become very close. Things do “Almost Always” work out the way Eva wishes but the key word is “almost”.

Husband John is retired and is interested in gingerbread houses. In fact, he is planning to make one to enter into a contest held in North Carolina. Eva wishes he had a more “manly hobby” and thinks he is wasting his time in his endeavor to enter the contest.

Daughter Shelly and her husband have been unable to have a child and their attempts in adoption have failed when the birth mothers have backed out. They have decided to just take a breather from all the treatments and filings to regroup when Eva informs them of her plan. They are not sure what to do or say but they are just not ready for another disappointment.

Cecelia comes from a single parent home with a mother than is basically absent. She is following in her mother’s and sister’s footprints by having a child way too soon and is completely overwhelmed by the prospect of being a mother.

This story is very well written with many twists. The characters are very developed and realistic . They continue to evolve as the story continues.  Eva was over the top but redeems herself a little bit in the end.

I enjoyed this story.

just you and a friend

4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAY

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End January 12, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

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Nov 262015
 

snow deerSnow Deer and Cocoa Cheer
Woman’s Fiction
Setting – Connecticut
Self Published
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1515120773
ASIN: B012DFPNYW
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New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio delivers a delightful novel about following your heart on the snow-dusted journey home.

Jane March’s greeting cards have lost their jingle. While worried about her job at New England’s Cobblestone Cards, she stumbles upon a forgotten box of her mother’s nostalgic paintings. They depict small-town Addison’s covered bridge and red barns and picket-fenced colonials. If only Jane’s designs could capture the same heart. When her mother shows her how with a Christmas to-do list of memories in the making, Jane gets checking.

Wes Davis has come home again, jilted and a little bitter. His autumn wedding’s off, and so is his holiday spirit. Even seeing the rustic wooden deer his father whittles by lantern light doesn’t help as he settles back into the shabby Victorian home of his childhood. It is only when Wes encounters the sparkling Jane March on his winding mail route that his cold winter heart begins to thaw.

As the fall months turn wintry, and the season merry, a funny thing happens in this charming Connecticut town: Jane and Wes check off items on that Christmas itinerary, together. But falling in love wasn’t included on the list. Or was it?

Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer is a treasured keepsake, reminding us that like winter’s first snow, life brings a beautiful flurry of its own unexpected moments.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Another extraordinary story from Joanne DeMaio. If this story doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit nothing will.

Jane March and Wes Davis are both at crossroads in their lives when the reconnect in Addison Cove. She is recouping after an physical injury and he is recouping from an emotional one. Their journey over the next few weeks is almost magical.

Jane is an artist but it is the author that breathes life into her watercolors and the beautiful places around Addison Cove. Oh my, I was able to envision them so clearly in my mind. The extra little touches Jane added to her card covers positively sparkled in the author’s words. Just joyful to read.

This is going to be a hard holiday season for me, the first since my son’s death. It is stories like this one that are going to help me endure the days. I was able to escape to Connecticut for an afternoon. I did shed a few tears because Kris is never out of my thoughts but Wes and Jane’s story made me smile. All the characters were wonderful and the way the town rallies together just made me feel warm all over.

I am posting this on Thanksgiving because it was the only day I had open when I was offered this book for review and there was no way I was going to miss it. I have loved everything this author writes and her books always seem to arrive when my life needs a bit of a lift and I thank Joanne DeMaio so much for that. So my recommendation is this,  click on the book cover and buy it and download it now, then  go enjoy the day with your family. Then on Saturday evening when you have had enough of all the Black Friday and the Saturday sales, make yourself a nice cup of cocoa and head to your favorite reading spot and enjoy Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer. Come back when you finish and tell me all what you thought! I hope you think it was a perfect escape too!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About This Author

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Her novels include the New York Times bestseller Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans; Whole Latte Life, a Kirkus Reviews Critics’ Pick; Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, a USA Today bestseller; True Blend; and The Denim Blue Sea. Her sixth novel, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer, has just been published. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut and is currently at work on her next book.

Find out more at her webpage here.

Connect with her on: 25 (2)

Other Books by Joanne DeMaio

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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Sep 042015
 

the paris keyThe Paris Key
Published by New American Library (September 1, 2015)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Paris France
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451473691
E-Book ASIN: B00SI027FA
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An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Genevieve Martin returns to Paris after her uncle passes away to take over his locksmith shop. There is so much bureaucratic red tape for her to be able to work as a locksmith in Paris so she is unsure how long she will actually be able to stay, but she hopes things work out. Her aunt is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and her cousin has no desire to take over her father’s business. Before Genevieve has time to sleep off the jet lag she has customers at her door. The neighbors are friendly for the most part and take her under their wing.  She tries to settle in but then she starts to discover secrets about her mother that could change her entire life. What a story!!!

The story travels between Genevieve’s life now, and when she visited Paris in 1997, and her mother Angela’s life in the early 80’s. It does get a little confusing at times because so many people intersect over all three time periods but the chapters are clearly labeled which helps. These are rich characters and some things they go through are heartbreaking. They both have escaped to Paris, Angela questioning her life and her marriage, Genevieve after her mother dies and now as her divorce is close to final. It was so nice to see Paris through their eyes. The descriptions were vivid and easy to envision. How different things looked from Genevieve the child to Genevieve the adult. Love for Paris shines brightly.

The story itself was all about family, the journey, the good times and the bad, unlocking memories and secrets. This story has much more depth than I originally expected.  I found myself absolutely and totally escaping into this book.  I have enjoyed Juliet Blackwell’s mysteries so I knew I would enjoy the story but I was truly blown away. I hated to reach the last page.  I have never been to Paris but after reading this book I hope to travel there someday.

Thank you Ms. Blackwell for taking me on this amazing journey.

paradise5 STARFISH5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Juliet Blackwell on her webpage here.

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

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Jan 282014
 

curl up and dye
The Curl Up and Dye
Woman’s Fiction/Romance/Humor
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (February 4, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1402283963
E-Book File Size: 1255 KB
ASIN: B00FG9YQQY
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This series was introduced with the novella Color Me Bad, which was a perfect escape. You can read my review here.

The character getting a fresh start in this story is LilyAnn Bronte. She was on top off the world, honor student, cheerleader, Peachy – Keen Queen and engaged to marry her high school sweetheart. Then  her fiance enlisted in the military and was killed in Iraq. She lost her zest for life, became withdrawn and gained some weight. When a new guy comes to Blessings, she decides that now may be the time to get her life back on track. But will she discover that her new love was already in town and was just waiting for her to realize it?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I normally read mysteries but I love to add books like this to the mix. The Curl Up and Dye was such a fun read once I started reading I just could stop.

LilyAnn just stopped really living her life for 11 years after her finance was killed. She lived in her childhood home left to her by her parents, stayed working at the same local drugstore, and she never finished college. Her friends moved on and most of them away. The only thing she treated herself to was a weekly hair appointment at The Curl Up and Dye.  Ruby, the owner and Vera and Vesta, the other stylists wished there was something they could do to help her. Then Ruby had an idea….

This book is not your typical romance novel. It is jammed packed with humor and sensitivity. It has been labeled as Wally Lamb meets Steel Magnolias and that sure fits. A beauty shop anywhere is the place for gossip and The Curl Up and Dye is no exception.

I just love the expression “Bless her heart” and knowing its true Southern meaning. But it is lines like this that really had me smiling.

“Dang girl, you’re not nearly as big as you were the last time we were here.”

“Eddie Gleason! I can’t believe that just came out of your mouth. I’m sorry LilyAnn. I have yet to meet a man who could breathe and make sense at the same time…”

This story was a breath of fresh air and I truly enjoyed it from start to finish. Blessings, Georgia is a special place full of good people and Southern charm. I hope I get to visit there again real soon!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Sharon Sala visit her webpage here. You can also follow her on Facebook here and Twitter here.

The publisher is allowing me to give away 1 copy!!!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Check out the rest of The Curl Up and Dye Virtual Book Tour (this is not a Great Escapes tour)

 

Monday Jan. 27 Cocktails and Books
Night Owl Reviews
Ashley Winters
Tuesday Jan. 28 You Gotta Read
Escape With Dollycas
Wednesday Jan. 29 From the TBR Pile
Thursday Jan. 30 Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews
Friday Jan. 31 Zee Monodee
Monday Feb. 3 Reading Between the Wines
Book Reveiws and More by Kathy
Tuesday Feb. 4 Book Soulmates
Wednesday Feb. 5 The Romance Dish
Thursday Feb. 6 Chick Lit Pad
Im A Voracious Reader
The Reading Café
Friday Feb. 7 Royal Reviews
Monday Feb. 10 Thoughts in Progress
Confessions of a Book Addict
Tuesday Feb. 11 Romancing the Book
Wednesday Feb. 12 Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday Feb. 13 Deb’s Book Bag
Beth’s Book Reviews
Friday Feb. 14 Dyeingtolive
Sun. Feb. 16
Monday, Feb. 17 Ramblings from this Chick
Tuesday, Feb. 18 Clue Review
Chick Lit Central
Wednesday, Feb. 19 Delighted Reader
Thursday, Feb. 20 So Many Precious Books, So Little Time!
Friday, Feb. 21 Born To Read Books
Monday, Feb. 24 JeanzBookReadNReview
StoreyBook Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 25 Romantic Reads and Such
Wednesday, Feb. 26 Sharon’s Garden of Books
Thursday, Feb. 27
Friday, Feb. 28 Book’d Out
Monday, March 3 Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Tuesday, March 4 My Book Addiction and more

 

**********************************************************************

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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May 242013
 
I selected this post to be featured on Blog Nation. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

special guest blue
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 :
25 (2)badge1twitter

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.

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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.”

LFMreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d02013where are you reading

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Dec 272012
 

me before you
Me Before You: A Novel
Contemporary/Woman’s Fiction
Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Hardcover: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670026609

Louisa Clark (Lou) is just an ordinary woman leading her life, living with and helping to take care of her parents and grandfather. Then the job she loves at the cafe is gone. The owner has closing and moved away. Jobs are hard to come by and she tries a few. Then she is convinced to become a companion/caregiver to Will Traynor. A man who was a daredevil and astute businessman that has been sidelined by an accident the caused damage to his spinal cord. He is now in a wheelchair and can only move one hand slightly. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to dive into this book. I had only read a small synopsis sent by the publicist before I started reading. I knew the man in the story was paralyzed but didn’t really give it more than a passing thought until I read about his injury. His damage to his spine was in the C5-6 area, the exact same place as my injury. He is confined to a wheelchair with very little movement. This could have been me. I was lucky to have paralysis only claim one side of my body. This did give me pause but I continued reading. Will Traynor went through the same feelings and doubt and uncertainty that I did and still sometimes have. But he did do something I could never do. He decided to have 6 months with his family and then he would end his life at a assisted suicide clinic in  Switzerland. Lou will do anything to get him to change his mind. To say this book affected me deeply in an understatement.

Jojo Moyes has written a brilliant story that was well researched. She incorporates spinal injury online support groups to help Lou understand what Will is going through. From experience I know the snippets in the book are credible. She has included a caregiver that takes care of the more personal and medical needs for Will so that Lou is more of a friend or companion at least at first.

She has also created a wonderful cast of supporting characters. Lou’s lower class family, working hard every day to try to keep up. Her sister, the family favorite, with her own personal battles. Lou’s boyfriend who has suddenly become a fitness guru. Then there is Will’s family. Upper middle class with a huge house and plenty of money. But even with their son’s disability aside, were they ever happy? I truly enjoyed the chapters when other characters took over and gave their perspective. We were able to get a deeper vision of their thoughts and impressions of  their lives as well as their feelings about Lou and Will.

This was not a book that I could rush through but I feel that is because of my personal issues with the story. I found myself setting the book aside because some parts were so powerful or when I found myself actually crying so much the words were blurred. It is not your run of the mill love story. Feelings grew in ways that I didn’t even imagine. I don’t want to ruin the end for anyone but I was truly hoping for a different outcome. I understood, but as a person who has actually looked death in the eye and came back, life is just too precious to me.

An intense story, I highly recommend you have a box of tissues handy.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Q & A with JOJO MOYES,

Tell us a little about where your ideas for your characters and their stories come from.

They come from all over the place. It’s often a snippet of conversation or a news story that just lodges in my head and won’t go away. Sometimes I get an idea for a character too, and then unconsciously start knitting them together. Me Before You is the most “high concept” book I’ve ever written—in that I could describe it in two sentences. But most of them are a lot more organic and just contain lots of ideas and things that I’ve pulled together. With this book I think the issue of quality of life was probably to the front of my mind as I had two relatives who were facing life in care homes, and I know that in one case she would probably have chosen any alternative to that existence.

Which of the characters in Me Before You do you identify with the most?

Well, there’s definitely a bit of Lou in there. I did have a pair of stripy tights that I loved as a child! I think you have to identify with all your characters to some extent, or they just don’t come off the page properly. But I also identify with Camilla a bit. As a mother I can’t imagine the choice she has to make, and I could imagine in those circumstances you would just shut down a bit emotionally.

What made you choose to set Me Before You in a small historical town with a castle at its center?

I tried all sorts of settings for this book. I drove all over Scotland, trying to find a castle and a small town that would “fit.” It was essential that Lou came from a small town, rather than a city, because I live in one myself and I’m fascinated by the way that growing up in one can be the greatest comfort—and also incredibly stifling. I wanted a castle because it was the purest example of old money rubbing up against ordinary people. Britain is still incredibly hide-bound by class, and we only really notice it when we go to a place where it doesn’t exist in the same way, like the U.S. or Australia. I needed the class difference between Will and Lou to be clear.

We love the way you draw the social distinction between Lou’s working-class upbringing and Will’s upper-class background. Did you do that deliberately to introduce humor into what could otherwise have been a deeply tragic situation?

Yes I did. I thought that the subject was so bleak potentially that it was important to have a lot of humor in the book. But it adds a useful tension to the narrative too: offsetting the warmth and chaos of Lou’s home life with the more formal and reserved nature of Will’s relationship with his parents. And it gives Lou an added reason to feel totally out of her depth once she arrives there. From the point of the reader, it also gives Will a subtle advantage that is vital if we are to see him as Lou’s equal and not just an object of pity.

Your books always have an incredibly moving love story at the heart of them. What is it about the emotional subject of love that makes you want to write about it?

I have no idea! I’m not very romantic in real life. I guess love is the thing that makes us do the most extraordinary things—the emotion that can bring us highest or lowest, or be the most transformative—and extremes of emotion are always interesting to write about. Plus I’m too wimpy to write horror.

Have you ever cried while writing a scene in any of your books?

Always. If I don’t cry while writing a key emotional scene, my gut feeling is it’s failed. I want the reader to feel something while reading—and making myself cry has become my litmus test as to whether that’s working. It’s an odd way to earn a living.

Where do you write? Do you set hours or just put pen to paper when inspiration strikes?

I work in roughly set hours, but with three children and a lot of animals I’ve found you have to be flexible. If there are no disruptions I roll out of bed and straight to my desk and work from 6am to 7:30am, and then again after I’ve done the animals from roughly 10am to 2:30pm. My ideal time to work would be from 3pm to 10pm—but unfortunately that only happens if I go away and hide in a hotel.

When you form characters do you ever incorporate aspects from people you know?

Yes—but often without realizing. Luckily if you write a negative character trait people are rarely likely to recognize themselves. More often though the characters have elements of myself which I then stretch and exaggerate until they become their own. Lou, for example, contains something of the character I could well have been if I had married the man I got engaged to at 17. I would have led a very different life.

Who would be in your dream book club? Where would you meet and what would you talk about?

Oh, wow. If I can have dead and living writers, I’d have Anaïs Nin, Hemingway, Xenophon, Haruki Murakami, Jessica Mitford, and Nora Ephron. We’d meet in a smoky bar in Paris and I’d probably not say very much at all. I’d be awestruck and just sit there and listen.

Do any other writers inspire you?

Yes. I love Kate Atkinson for her inventiveness, and because as a reader you can give yourself over to a plot that seems to go everywhere, trusting that she will bring the ends together in the most satisfactory and unexpected ways. I love Barbara Kingsolver for her use of language and Nora Ephron for her wit and the way she writes about the business of love and being human. It’s always tricky reading too much of the writers who inspire you though; sometimes they’re so good you just want to give up and go and work in a chicken factory instead.

When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your time?

I ride my ex-racehorse, Brian, and try to just hang out with my children without muttering: “I’ll be with you in a minute… I’ve just got to finish this…” A dream weekend, however, would be spent alone with my husband in Le Marais, Paris.

The Book Publicity Kit Even Includes This Recipe.

Lemon Cream Tart
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons stick margarine
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups reduced-fat
vanilla wafer crumbs (about 36 cookies)
Cooking spray
3 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can low-fat sweetened
condensed milk (not evaporated skim milk)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided
10 lemon rind strips (optional)
Mint leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine first 3 ingredients and beat at high speed of a mixer until blended. Add crumbs and toss with a fork until moist. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch round tart pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 325° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Combine eggs, milk, lemon rind, and juice in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool completely. Top with whipped topping. Garnish with lemon rind strips and mint, if desired.

About This Author
Jojo Moyes (b. 1969 in London, England) is a British novelist. She is one of only a few authors to have twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has been translated into eleven different languages. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist. She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children. Find out more about Jojo Moyes here.

I am giving away my gently read review copy!
Open to U.S. and Canada
Contest Will End January 10, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. CST
Winner will be notified via email and name will be posted in the sidebar of this blog.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

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

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Dec 202012
 

summer rental

Summer Rental
St. Martin’s Press (June 7, 2011)
Woman’s Fiction
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN-10: 0312642695

Summer Rental

Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she’s made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds–has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can’t hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.  And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he’s hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he’s ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity.  Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.*

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Reading this book in December warmed me right up. While pretty predictable it is well written with engaging characters set in one of my favorite places in the United States.

The surprise element was the addition of Maryn. At first she really didn’t fit in with the story but Andrews made it work. Like the rest of the woman she was at a crossroads in her life – a dangerous one. Since I usually read mysteries I enjoyed this character being inserted into the group of life long friends.

Friendship, romance, humor with a bit of mystery makes this an entertaining beach read at any time of year. You really can’t go wrong with a Mary Kay Andrews novel.

just you and a friend

4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues.  A former journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.  Visit www.marykayandrews.com//

Amazon.com Widgets

* Synopsis from Amazon.com
This book was from my private collection.
WIN5

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Jun 122012
 

A few weeks ago I received a email from Tara saying she loved my blog and wondered if I would read and review her book. After reading the synopsis of the story I wrote back to Tara and said I would not only read and review it but wanted to know if she would be interested in doing a guest post. I was happy when she accepted and am so pleased to welcome her here today!

Hi Tara!


Hi everyone!

First of all, I want to say how thrilled I am to be on Dollycas’s Book Blog! What a wonderful and welcoming resource it is for readers and a great mini-getaway (love the white-sand beach and palm trees). Thanks so much for having me as a guest. As one of this blog’s features is showing writers “caught reading” here’s one of me, enjoying The Help.

One question that’s a popular one about my novel, Barefoot Girls, is “What was the inspiration behind your novel?” I’ve answered with the short version before, but I thought the answer deserved a little fleshing out, inspiration being at the heart of creativity, so here it is!

I remember the first time I read a book about mothers and daughters that truly impacted me: it was when I read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I had never read anything that explored all the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship so well. There was all the love, pride, and hope that are inherent in this unique relationship as well as the miscommunications, control issues, and disappointments that plague it. Although it tells the specific stories of Chinese immigrants and their daughters, these stories were universal pertaining to matters of the heart.

It was this book that was one of my inspirations for Barefoot Girls. I didn’t imagine I would write something as spectacular as Ms. Tan’s, but I hoped to revisit its subject matter and further pursue it in my own way. The heart of the story of Barefoot Girls revolves around the troubled relationship of a mother, Keeley, and a daughter, Hannah. In the story, Hannah unconsciously writes a poison-pen novel about her mother, thinly veiling her childhood experience of neglect, and sets off a chain reaction that damages her relationship with not only her mother, but her mother’s sister-close friends who are also godmothers to Hannah. Hannah’s journey to resolving this breach and discovering the truth about her mother as well as her own ghosts follows.

Another very important inspiration was friendship. The Barefooters, as the four women are called, are lifelong best friends. This is more common than you would think; I know many women who have such friends and I know that, in today’s ever-busier world, friendships are starting to fall by the wayside as we hurry along trying to do it “all”. This is a tragedy. We need friends.  I wanted to give readers a vicarious experience of the Barefooters’ friendship in the hopes it would inspire them to reach out to their own friends – maybe invite them over and mix up a few Mean Greens (the Barefooters’ cocktail specialty)!

The final inspiration was a little island where I spent my summers growing up. It’s in the Great South Bay on Long Island and bears a strong resemblance to the fictional island in the book where the majority of the story is set: Captain’s Island. It was such a unique place, a small spit of land lined with houses where there was no electricity or even running water. Instead of electricity, there were gas lamps and propane refrigerators. Instead of running water, cisterns collected rainwater which you pumped with an old-fashioned pump at the sink. That’s right – no hot water!

There were also no cars or even a ferry; you traveled to the island via your own boat. To visit your neighbors, you walked down the wooden boardwalk that connected the houses or jumped in your boat to ride over. All of this contributed to a small-town feeling that made the island a truly special place, like something out of another time. People were more sociable there and much more athletic: swimming, sailing, fishing, diving, windsurfing, etc. In the evenings, we gathered for cocktails (Shirley Temples or cola for us kids) and someone would always end up playing a piano or a guitar and everyone would sing. Talk about old-school entertainment! I wouldn’t trade my childhood summers for anything. So, I hoped to give readers a taste of what that was like by having the characters growing up on a very similar island and returning there every summer.

Those three are the biggest inspirations behind Barefoot Girls, but to be honest, everything inspires me. The world, I find, is a very inspiring place! Looking forward to hearing back from readers about the book as well as their stories of mothers and daughters, any special summer places, and, maybe, about a few lifelong friendships…

~Tara

Thank you so much for stopping by today Tara!! 

To Find Out More About Tara visit here website!

Check out my review below and then be sure to enter to win a copy of Tara’s book!!

Barefoot Girls
This is an e-book
Bramblevine Press (February 10, 2012)

Barefoot Girls


     

 

 

Being an author should be a wonderful thing, but when a reviewer claims Hannah O’Brien’s new novel is not fictional but in fact a memoir of her life with her neglectful alcoholic mother Hannah doesn’t know what to do. Her mother Keeley has not even read the book but believes her daughter has written lies about her and completely cuts Hannah out of her life.

Then Hannah life starts to fall apart and puts her engagement to Daniel at risk. Her landlord wants her to move to his daughter can live there instead. She just wants her mom back in her life.

Barefoot Girls to the rescue. These women have been friends forever. They spent their summers growing up on Captain’s Island and still spend a month there together each year. When Hannah was a baby that all took care of her. They convince Keeley to send Hannah the keys to the “Barefoot House”. Hannah grabs the chance to visit the little shack filled with memories.Maybe she can sort out her life if she gets away.

She needs understand her troubled childhood before she can move on.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I enjoyed this book. The story goes back and forth from past to present. Through a series of flashbacks we get to see the lives of Keeley, Amy, Zooey, and Pam’s as they come of age on Captain’s Island. Friends through thick and thin. Each of their families are unique as our their own relationships. As we see their lives today their friendship is still as strong as ever and they all love Hannah so much.

It is a very emotional story complete with several twists that moved the story. The mother’s denial upset me a bit. To believe a reviewer over her own child without ever reading the whole story. Authors draw inspiration from so many sources. Keeley was a very complicated character and as the story develops the reader gets some understanding but it was a hurdle for me. I wanted to reach into the pages and hug Hannah so tightly.

All the characters are rich and perfectly imperfect. The reader becomes quickly invested in their lives. Even one very troubled soul.

The setting sounds like a terrific place to escape. We should all take a little time to get away from all the conveniences in life. Not sure how long I would last without electricity but the beach and a bag of books could keep me content for quite awhile.

Tara McTiernan is definitely an author I am going to watch. She has a wonderful debut with this story. I am looking forward to reading more of her work.  

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

I have to share this book with you so I am giving away 1 e-book copy!  

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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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