Monday, April 16, 2018

Short and Sweet Review: The Disappeared by C.J. Box




I’m a huge fan of C.J. Box and his valiant Wyoming game warden, Joe Picket. But it’s been a while since I’ve read one of his books. You know how it is, once you’re caught up with all the books in a series you have to wait until the next one comes out and the before you know it, you’re binge reading Longmire or Charles Lenox mysteries, or maybe rereading Pride and Prejudice or Ender’s Game. So many books, so little time. Anyway, Box doesn’t ‘put out’ at the speed of some authors, but the payoff is worth the wait and that's definitely the case in The Disappeared.

If you’ve been following Joe’s adventures you’ve been through many anxious moments for him, his family, and his best friend, sometime fugitive from the law, (former special forces, master falconer, zen master? What can this guy not do??) Nate Romanowski. 

Readers will be thrilled to hear Nate is back in this book. While each installment in this series is great...it never feels quite whole without Nate. He made a promise long ago to protect Joe and his family and, as readers know, for Nate, a promise never grows old.

This time the new Govenor has sent Joe on a mission to find a missing British woman, despite previous attempts by federal agencies that were mysteriously and prematurely terminated. There’s a missing game warden too, and some frustrated falconers. Oh, and a really nasty guy who seems to always be on the fringes of whatever goes wrong. Wait! Don’t forget the local logging company’s burner that’s supposed to be burning up the day’s sawdust...but it smells like more than sawdust to a meddlesome little old lady.

Why send a game warden? And who hates Joe enough to want to destroy him? Think back, fans of the series...you know who, but it will become clear soon enough.

The only upside is the location, a very high-end dude ranch where Joe’s oldest daughter, Sheridan, happens to work, and where she’s become very fond of a fellow wrangler. Sheridan, as we’ve seen before, is cast in a similar mold to Joe. This time around we see her finding her feet—and maybe her future—more and more. My fingers are crossed that the future holds more of Sheridan. And Nate, of course, we always want some more Nate!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Princess Maddie is 11!

Maddie

Today is my little girl’s 11th birthday.  Her name is Maddie and she’s a Golden Retriever. Her little sister, Zoe, turned 3 in March, and while Maddie has mellowed with age and dearly loves her many naps throughout the day, Zoe is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm.

The day we brought Zoe home Maddie gave us ‘The Look’. If you have an older pet and have brought home a puppy you know what I’m talking about. It’s the one that says “Oh no...what have you done now?” But we couldn’t help ourselves, we are dog lovers and we love them in pairs. Usually it takes a few months, max, before we are on the hunt for a new puppy after one of ours crosses over that Rainbow Bridge. This time, however, was an exception.

Maddie’s older brother, Wrigley, had passed almost 2 years before. In the interim Maddie faced some health issues so we didn’t want to inflict a puppy on her while she recovered. Then we had a few road trips we wanted to take and Maddie, as our now ‘Only Dog’, came along. To say she luxuriated in the attention and pleasure of an only dog would be a very big understatement. We always knew, from her delicately regal trot to her incredibly loving spirit, that she was born to be our Princess. What we hadn't realized was that she was clearly also born to be an only child!

Unfortunately, we didn’t really appreciate that fact until we brought home the new puppy. Past experience had taught us that it took two or three weeks for the older dog to lay down the hierarchy and then settle into a comfortable relationship with the interloper in their domain.

Maddie, in fact, was subjected to just such behavior when she arrived, a frisky and sweet tempered 9 week old, anxious to make Wrigley her new best friend. Wrigs had other ideas and Maddie spent a couple weeks sneaking up and settling in behind him when he slept. She’d curl up and sleep near his tail--where he couldn’t see her but she could still be close to him.

Maybe he could see her, and it was all part of the process. I’ll never know for sure, but I’ve seen it many times. That’s because Zoe is something like the 15th dog so far in my life. Some came single, some in pairs, for a while we had three BIG dogs...that’s a lot of dog around the house! Eventually, Maddie and Wrigley were devoted to each other and Wrigs was so sorely missed by his little sister when he was gone.

Zoe and Maddie
I’m not sure Maddie is quite as devoted to Zoe, but they have formed a comfortable friendship and Maddie is the first to come to her defense whenever she's encountered less than friendly dogs. Zoe adores her and is at her bravest in the world when Maddie is beside her. I guess dogs, like people, have their favorite friends.

We, of course, are devoted to our dogs, and I do believe they have all been devoted to us, whether we deserved it or not. And that’s the bottom line with dogs. They’re friendship is true. They are ever sympathetic, ever delighted to see you, ever excited just because you are you—no questions asked.

Today, our sweet girl is 11 and we are so thankful she’s our girl. No questions asked.  


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Short and Sweet Review: Death in The Floating City by Tasha Alexander



For fans of history and mystery, you’ll find the perfect mix in Tasha Alexander’s Death in The Floating City. This is the seventh book in her Lady Emily series and, I know, why am I reviewing the seventh book when you have to read six other books to get here? Because you should! Lady Emily is a feisty Victorian gal. She started with book one of the series, And Only to Deceive, where we first met Emily as a young widow on the trail of her husband’s killer. Of course, she got her man!

But in that book, and since, she’s discovered the ancient Greeks, met a great guy (yep, there’s some romance in here too-just enough) and taken us on murder mystery adventures from Paris to Greece to Constantinople and now Venice. To visit these places in another era is fascinating enough, and my hat is off to Ms. Alexander, her research is impressive and well woven into the story. Trust me, you won’t feel like you are in a boring lecture hall—you’ll eat up every word.

I won’t reveal all about this book, as some things you shouldn’t know yet, if you haven’t read the others. But I will tell you that Emily has come to Venice to help an old not-so-friendly friend whose husband has gone missing. As usual, she stays in the best places, visits the most opulent locations as well as the seediest. And along the way you get a feeling for the kind old vendettas that might have lead Shakespeare to pen Romeo and Juliet.

Death in The Floating City is a multi-layered adventure, set in the book’s present and past, weaving the long forgotten lives of ancestors whose stories still affect their descendants. This is truly a page turner and, if you know what’s good for your reader’s soul, you’ll start on page one of book one, and race to catch up. What could be more fun?  

Friday, March 16, 2018

Is it Me, Or is it My Character:Fiction vs Autobiography

So yes, in this case this IS my puppy...Zoe!

When you read a book, do you wonder how much of the author’s real life is a part of his or her characters? I know I sometimes do, but I also realize that it’s fiction, so unless it’s autobiography, I don’t expect it’s ALL about the author. My characters are a perfect example.

I’m currently writing the third book in the Keeper Series, and this one will wrap up Del’s story. If you’ve read The Shell Keeper or A Road Back to Grace, and if you’ve followed my blogs, you may know that, yes, I am also a Realtor, like Claire, but I’m not Claire. And I also LOVE to bake and hang out in coffee shops, but I’m not Gwen (though it would be cool to own my OWN coffee shop/bakery!).

The same goes for Del. I’m not really a retiring wallflower blossoming under the encouragement of my new friends, but I do have a lot of experience at volunteer fundraising. Think you love chocolate? Try eating your way through sample after sample of potential chocolate fundraisers....it’s enough to make you crave a crisp apple or maybe even broccoli. Need Christmas wrap? Candles? School supplies? Popcorn? There’s a fundraising for that, and at least a dozen companies with their version of it.

I imagine that’s how Del started out, putting together fundraisers for her kids. By the time we meet her she’s moved up in the fundraising world and is organizing a Christmas gala with a silent auction for the local Women’s League. I’ve been a part of that sort of event as well and know that it’s a whole new level of volunteerism.

I am thankful for parents who have the time to dedicate to these because I understand just how much time that takes. It’s more than a full time job while it lasts, and a good campaign chairperson has to juggle egos along with scheduling, menus, worker bees, unhappy parents and tax deductible contributions, including adorable golden retriever puppies, really--that was QUITE a bidding war!

Like all writers, I bring a lifetime of experiences to the page. I start with what I know and let my imagination run with it. I don’t always know where my characters are going to take me—they have minds of their own sometimes.

As I put Del’s story in print I’m excited to find out where she will take me-and you! 

(Haven't read the first two books in the Keeper Series? Click on the links on the right side of my blog to find them on Amazon!)


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Books That Inspire: Christy by Catherine Marshall


Recently, a fellow author asked me who were the inspirational authors of my youth? Before I even imagined writing, I read. But if I’d thought to emulate a favorite author, it could definitely vary depending on the day. I might have chosen, Jane Austen, or Orson Scott Card, or Willa Cather, or...well, it’s a very long list.

But it made me think, if I had to choose a book, the first book I remember having an impact on me as a reader, the first book that might have made me think, dare or dream of writing, it would have to be Christy by Catherine Marshall. Marshall based the book on her mother’s life and journey as a young woman, leaving behind a comfortable life to teach the poor of the Smokey Mountains. The experience challenged her and changed her. It changed Marshall’s readers as well, myself included.

It’s the kind of story mothers would probably like their young daughters to read today, but I think it’s been a little lost in the growing sea of literature for pre-teens, teens and young adults. Don’t get me wrong, there’s so much great writing out there now, it’s like a renaissance in those genres. But great stories are always great, no matter how long ago they were written and that’s definitely the case here.

A more recent example is Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden. Nothing Daunted is also written about a relative, and her friend who, in the 1800’s, journeyed beyond their comfort zone to teach in what was to them a wild new area--in this case, Hayden, Colorado, near Steamboat Springs. Like Christy, these women faced challenges they never imagined and found within themselves courage and faith they never expected. Their lives were also changed for the better.


When I was 13 I spent a good chunk of my summer sitting on that porch swing reading Christy (it’s a BIG book and I’m a slow reader). I think I may have cried when I finished it, as if I’d been parted from a dear friend. I went on to read more Catherine Marshall (A Man Called Peter, about her husband, who was chaplain of the senate, is also a wonderful book). Still, Christy stuck with me. I should be so fortunate to ever write something as timeless and touching as that story.

The original cover (1967)
I love the 'feel' of this cover!

I have a lot of little girls in my life now and I often give them books. As they grow into their teen years I look forward to sharing Christy with them. I hope they love it as much as I did. And I hope my older, author-self, might someday write something that challenges, inspires and encourages them and others. It would be my gift to my 13 year-old self who discovered a world of adventure during a sultry Midwestern summer, inside of the covers of a good book.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

FREE?! Yep, The Shell Keeper is FREE!

Whoa!😲Something must be in the air because the FREE eBook promotions just keep coming! Now it's The Shell Keeper's turn. If you haven't started my Keeper trilogy yet, or know someone who would love it, now's the time to jump in because...did I mention...the first book is FREE!  
But not forever, you only have THREE DAYS, starting tomorrow, March 4 through March 6 to get it free on your Kindle, then, like Cinderella's coach, it turns back into, well, not a pumpkin, but a full price eBook. 
Click HERE to once again be magically transported to my Amazon page where you can get yours. It's just like a Fairy Tale...and I guarantee a happy ending. 😊 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

FREE Book...did I mention it's FREE?!

Woohoo! Looking for a fun mystery with humor and heart? Check out the first book in my Kay Conroy Mystery Series, FRAMED! Why now?? Because Amazon is running a FREE KINDLE PROMOTION for FIVE days, ending February 21st. So its FREE! As in, you can get a great book for FREE! What more could a fun loving reader ask? So go get it now!

Still here?? What's the delay, you're in the middle of another book and not ready for a new one just yet? I totally understand. That's ok, get it TODAY and you can read it when you're done with that other book. I know my book is not the only book out there...but it is a fun book and, well...if you like fun mysteries what do you have to lose? Afterall, IT'S FREE!!!

Okay, I've officially used up my month's alotment of exclamation points (and maybe next month's too! Opps, there goes another one). So CLICK HERE and you will be magically transported to the Amazom page where you can get FRAMED. Did I mention, it's FREE!!