Tuesday, October 30, 2018

For the Love of a Good Series

photo courtesy Open Book Bookstore

I finished reading a book last night and now I’m wondering what to read next? Yes, writers are avid readers too-maybe some of the most avid! I love the luxury of letting someone else spin a story for me, not knowing quite where the author will take me. But eventually, all good stories come to an end. Then what?

Well, as lots of readers have learned, a good series will keep you going and the story will (almost) never end. Of course, all stories come to an end, whether it’s a short trilogy, like my Keeper Series, or a crazy long one like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series—25 and counting. If you pace yourself, reading other authors here and there, a good book series can keep you entertained for years, leaving you no time to bemoan that there’s nothing to read.

Finding a good series, however, is the first step. Finding two or three is even better, because you can jump around series while still always having a ‘next book’ on the horizon. Not to mention that errant ‘single title’ that begs from the bestseller list to be read. And also, let’s be honest here, series don’t write themselves. We have to give authors time to come up with those wonderful story ideas, write the first draft, edit, edit, edit....edit some more and eventually, put their baby out there for all the world to enjoy. (While they go back and come up with ideas for the next one...we KNOW your waiting!)

With all of this in mind, I’ve decided to start another recurring column about book series, along the lines of my recurring ‘Short and Sweet Review’ columns where I review books I’ve read and mostly loved. The first one is coming soon, so keep an eye out. 

But in the meantime I thought I’d ask for you to share series titles with me. What book series (absolutely any genre!) have you loved over the years. Maybe you are still reading your way through...maybe you sigh, remembering the bittersweet moment you finished the very last book in a wonderful series. Yes, I’ve been there too. Don’t be shy, help your fellow readers out.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back soon with the first series recommendation and, over time, many more. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


                    Such a Deal!!!

Hop over to my Amazon page and get the Kindle versions of any of my books for just 99 cents! This can't last long...can it?! Probably not, so don't dally. Click HERE to go THERE. Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Short and Sweet Review: The Book of Beloved (Pluto's Snitch Mystery 1) by Carolyn Haines

Yes, just like you, I am susceptible to a good book review in the Sunday paper. That’s how I came to read ‘The Book of Beloved’ byCarolyn Haines. I don’t usually go for unsettling paranormal visitors or Civil War related tales, but something in the review made me curious and, in the end, I guess I’m glad I read it. And I think if you are into that sort of thing, you’ll probably love it.

That said, let’s get to the characters and the story itself. Raissa James is a young woman in the post-WWI era with a history of great loss that would seriously knock down anyone without a strong emotional constitution. But she’s determined to move on with her life and find happiness, despite lingering grief. So I was rooting for her, of course, who wouldn’t?

She’s a teacher with the summer off so she decides to take up her Uncle’s invitation to visit him at his stately and seriously haunted southern estate outside Mobile, Alabama. The era this novel is set in is critical to the story. There are still unhappy losers in the battle between the north and the south and while Civil Rights may be on the far horizon those who support it know to keep it to themselves. For anyone with a conscience, this is a dangerous place and time to be living.

Add in some very unhappy ghosts who do a heck of a lot more than say ‘boo!’, a titillating scandal from the past that will probably surprise you—maybe shock you if you are easily shocked, and muddle the mystery with a little romance, just to make it complicated, and you end up with a pretty good read. Personally, I tried to keep my reading to daytime hours, to avoid being too creeped out, but I was curious to see how all of these dead people would be appeased and sent on their spectral ways to a better place.

Did I mention this is a murder mystery too? Even though it’s at the heart of the story, it sort of felt secondary. Maybe that’s because I pretty much figured out whodunit very early on. I hoped our author would surprise me, but no, I was right. That happens, but it was still a fun resolution. And the addition about halfway through the story of a mystic wannabe who clearly will be part of the series was just what readers needed. It upped the ghosty part and added a fun new character who will complement our heroine well in future books.

Yes, this looks like it’s the start of a new series, based not only on the moniker ’Pluto’s Snitch Mystery 1’ after the title (I had to think hard to remember why ‘Pluto’s Snitch’, so pay attention if you care about that sort of thing) but also the end of this book is clearly the beginning of another and the start of a series. If you like your mysteries with a bit of the paranormal thrown in, check this one out.

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!


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!)