Friday, December 2, 2016

Photo Friday and other fun stuff

Okay, the first order of business is congratulations to Jacky and Shelli, winners of the giveaway for e-copies of The Problem With Peggy. Happy reading!

Next, we have one more week without a new story, because I'm attending the California School Board Assoc. annual conference this week, and haven't had time to write a story (I made a start, but have only about 1/3 of a story, about 30 minutes to bedtime Thursday night. Not happening. I'll finish it and use it next week!). Meanwhile, I'm learning lots to help me lead our school district, which is a pretty amazing thing to be able to do.

So, as so often when I've no stories for you, I've gone into the archives for some photos to serve as a Friday distraction. And since a lot of us have been feeling like things are kind of tough the last few weeks, I picked out photos of things growing where you wouldn't think they could.

Pioneers among the lava (Hawaii Volcanoes NP)

Never underestimate the power of a plant! (Hawaii Volcanoes NP)

Datura grows lavishly in desert corners (Canyon de Chelly Nat. Monument, AZ)

I am always amazed at what grows in the desert, though of course the canyons are where the water is. Cottonwoods in the Narrows, Zion National Park.
Even where the sun hardly shines, plant grow on every ledge in the canyons (Zion NP)
What grows after the fire? Flowers! Beautiful, delicate flowers. (Sequoia NP)
Of course, the alpine flowers are a bit mind-boggling. How do they find every tiny pocket of dirt at 10 or 12,000 feet? (Sequoia NP)
Columbine are among the most amazing (to me), as they look so delicate, and grow in nearly dirtless cracks in the rocks at high elevation (Sequoia NP)
Okay, this one's a cheat. It's actually growing in a pretty decent spot, in a moderate-elevation forest. I just think they look so unlikely--some kind of saprophyte, which live on decaying matter rather than photosynthesizing (thus the lack of green bits).
I hope the photos gave you something to smile at, and a bit of hope!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mystery Review: First Degree Mudder

Today we are participating in another Great Escapes Free Book Tour, taking us to Portland, Oregon.

Title: First Degree Mudder (A Pacific Northwest Mystery)
4th book in the series
Author: Kate Dyer-Seeley
Publisher: Kensington (November 29, 2016).  Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Source: ARC as participant in the free blog tour.

ISBN-13: 978-1496705099

Publisher's Synopsis:
When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .

My Review:
This was an entertaining read, and brings the reader into the Portland scene. It doesn't hurt that since it's summer, Portland is a pretty nice place during the book! Meg is a well-drawn character, and though her best friends, Jill and Matt, aren't closely involved in this mystery, it is clear that they are important in the series. In fact, their presence in this book seems to be more about what may come in the next one than anything to do with this murder (not saying they don't belong--not everyone in an amateur sleuth's life must be involved in the case, and part of the point of cozy mysteries is our connection with the sleuth's life).

All that said, I had a couple of issues with this one. For one thing, the book opens with a very long  flash-forward to finding the body. That wasn't a huge problem (though it was slightly confused for a bit, when the story jumped back without warning to set up the event). It was a larger problem that when the story reached that point again, we had the whole thing again. Only it's not exactly the same. A few details are different, and it bothered me more than it probably should have. Of greater concern was that the mystery didn't really quite gel for me. Some of the red herrings were well constructed, and Meg does work her way close to the root of it all. But the final solution is just kind of handed her.

Kvetching aside, though, the book was a fun and fast read, and the author has a nice sense of humor. A few jabs at the Portland "scene" gave me a chuckle (the pretentious coffee shop maybe got a guffaw), and since I visited Portland a couple of years ago, it was fun to connect the story with real places. (Not that I was dropping in on brew-pubs, since I was there to visit colleges with my son!)

This is a decent entry in the cozy mystery genre, and I'm intrigued enough by Meg and some mysteries surrounding her life to want to read the earlier books in the series. And, of course, the author is fond of punning titles, which always get my attention.

About The Author
Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

Kate lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

Author Links
Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N  Target   IndieBound


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants
November 28 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
November 28 – Grace. Gratitude. Life. by Marie McNary – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
November 28 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT
November 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
November 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
November 30 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
November 30 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW
December 1 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW
December 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
December 2 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
December 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
December 3 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 4 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW
December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
December 5 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of First Degree Mudder from Great Escapes Free Book Tours, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  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."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Release Day Party!

It's here at last!

Help yourself to the hors d'oeuvres, get a mug of hot cocoa (hey, this is a kids book! Stay out of the adult beverages!), and join the party.

I got the box the day before Thanksgiving. The excitement of opening a whole box of my books never grows old.

Stinky and Stinklet are excited there are now three books all about them. (Shh! I haven't told them that the books are mostly about the people of Skunk Corners).

In honor of the great occasion, the skunks are hosting a special giveaway--the new ebook for two lucky winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And for today only--contact us to purchase ANY of our books directly (signed!) and we'll pick up the shipping costs.
Purchase links: