Birthday Weekend!

I turned 29 two weeks ago and it was nice and relaxing!  I had a four day weekend and I spent my time relaxing, getting over a cold, and enjoying some quality time with friends a family.  I finally have time to post this so here are my top ten moments of my birthday weekend!

1. Started off with a Psych marathon.  Mike and I watched all the Halloween episodes which had me in stitches!

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2. I had birthday dinner date with my main man at our favorite sushi place.

3. I started each morning with a mocha latte in my favorite cup!

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4. I watched most of Once Upon A Time’s fourth season.

5. I had an amazing birthday lunch at my favorite pizza place with two of my best friends!

6. Mike went hunting so I spent some quality time with this crazy kid.  (Kata has strawberry on the top of her head.  Check out my Instagram for some fun videos of her.)

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7. I went to an anniversary lunch with my 99s group.  The 99s is the oldest female pilot organization.  These women are awesome!  Check the 99s out HERE.

8. I discovered a new show on HGTV, Fixer Upper.  It reminds me of all the things I love about Texas plus it pushed Mike and I to start planning our house renovations.

9.  I finished the weekend off watching one of my favorite cartoon movies.  I am still humming the songs two weeks later!

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10. I received both Fairest and Wild for my birthday, as well as a book gift card!  More books!!  (I’m beyond excited to start Fairest!!)

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11. (I couldn’t do just 10!) My birthday is always special because I get to hear from my family and friends!

What plans do you have this weekend?  Anything exciting?  Lindsay

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Writing Updates!

 

My plan for 2015 is to write as much as I can.  I am focusing on just getting first drafts finished and these monthly updates will hold me accountable in my writing.  So here is what was accomplished in January:

1.  Title: The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School Or  Getting Through Three Years of Self-Inflicted Higher Education Hell

Genre: Non-fiction, Humor

Synopsis:  So you want to go to grad school?  No big deal right?  I mean, you made it through your undergrad and you are now older and much more mature.  Grad school should be a breeze!  WRONG!  Learn from my naivety and make the most of your new living hell!  The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School is here to provide advice and answer questions you never dreamed of asking!

I am here to ensure both grad students and their support teams that you are not alone and that this too shall pass.  Take a quick study break, drown yourself in coffee, and flip through The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School for a much needed laugh!

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My Thoughts:  My time in grad school was tough.  I worked full time, went to school full time, and did a part time internship.  It was hard, exhausting, and often spirit destroying.  I cried, a lot.  I could fall asleep standing up.  My fellow students were really the only ones that understood what I was going through.  It was hard on me and my family, but I finally finished.

I expected life to go back to normal after school, but I found that I was still fighting depression and a lack of self confidence.  I decided that I just needed some time to readjust, so I was content to spend my days at a dead-end job and watching hours of TV.  This was even harder for my family to deal with because they felt I was wasting all my hard work.  I was prepared to just ride it out, but then my best friend started going through the same thing as her graduation approached.

I decided to write it all down to help explain what we were going through.  I included my unique brand of humor to help us laugh.  I use my personal stories and advice to help grad students know what their getting in to and to let them know that they are not alone.  There is a separate section for the family/friends/spouses of grad students on how they can survive the experience.

2. Title: Winter

(this is just the work-in-progress title and will be changed asap)

Genre: Mystery, Humor

Synopsis:  Lucy Jones is a Creative Writing Graduate student at the prestigious Colorado Institute of Art.  She is at her dream school working towards her dream job and her life would be amazing if it wasn’t for Dr. William Morgan.  Dr. Morgan is determined to crush Lucy’s spirit, treating her more like his personal slave instead of just his Teacher’s Assistant.  She spends her days surviving the stress and workload with no time for creative thought. Lucy can’t help but feel that this degree is a waste of her time and her dreams of being a writer slowly fade.

Then she finds Dr. Morgan’s dead body frozen in the snow.

Lucy tries to feel bad about the murder but she is finally free to pursue her dreams!  But Dr. Morgan manages to cause problems even in death and soon Lucy must abandon her studies to prove her family’s innocence.

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My Thoughts:  Yep, another grad school story.  I started writing this to put a much exaggerated and fun spin on the world of academia.  Plus, this is one of my favorite genres to read, so why not try writing it?  I am halfway through my first draft and enjoying every minute of it!  Side note: None of the characters are based on real people.

Let me know about your writing goals!  Lindsay

Murder on the Yukon Quest

Murder on the Yukon Quest

by Sue Henry

Murder on the Yukon Quest (Alex Jensen / Jessie Arnold, #6)

Jessie and her team of dogs are competing in the toughest dog sled race in the world–with an unknown killer on their trail. The beautiful Alaskan wilderness is the setting for this novel, by the author of Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

I discovered Sue Henry five years ago while wondering through the local library on a dreary January afternoon.  I had just moved to Florida and, for some reason, my heart longed to read an Alaskan mystery.  Sue Henry delivered and I ended up reading all her books in the library that rainy month.

Murder on the Yukon Quest is the 5th book in the Alex & Jessie series but the first one I read.  Jessie Arnold has decided to run her team on the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska.  She is a rookie on this trail, but an experienced musher due to running the Iditarod for years.  Jessie is excited about running this race but gets more than she bargained for when she is involved in the search for a kidnapped musher.

Henry provides beautifully detailed passages on the Canadian and Alaskan terrains and the history of the race.  She also documents the art of dogsled racing, which includes running schedules, feeding regimes, and the care of sled dogs.  I love these details because they make me feel like I am there with Jessie on her run, but these passages can be tedious for some readers.  I also enjoy reading about how the mushers work together despite competing against each other.  All racers were there to help anyone in trouble and their community is similar to the aviation community that I belong to, so I felt even more connected to the mushers.  Now add murder and kidnapping to this harsh environment and Henry has me hooked!

I do wish that Henry had tied in all the details concerning the kidnapping.  Don’t get me wrong, you will find out who did it and why, but I was left with a number of questions.  How did the bad guys become involved in this plot?  How was their plot meant to change the races?  Why choose Debbie Todd?  Small questions that keep me pondering even after the last page is turned.

I don’t recommend reading Murder on the Yukon Quest first.  It was the first Alex & Jessie novel I read and is definitely still my favorite, but this is the sixth book in a series of 12-13.  A turning point in Alex and Jessie’s relationship occurs in this novel and the relationship deserves the back story of the first five books.  I initially missed out on this and it has made it rather difficult for me to embrace Alex as Jessie’s love interest when reading the other books.  I can’t help but prefer Lynn Elhers after reading Murder on the Yukon Quest.  So start with the first book, Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

Have you read any Sue Henry novels?  Who else is planning on tracking the 2015 Yukon Quest and Iditarod Races!?

Lindsay

Manhunt

Manhunt

by Janet Evanovich

Manhunt

A woman with a talent for numbers, Alexandra Scott wanted to escape the rat race and go someplace where the men outnumber the women. Trading in her Wall Street job and fancy condo for a rundown cabin in the woods. She’s now Alaskan Wilderness Woman. It isn’t long before she finds exactly what she’s looking for; one sexy pilot named Michael Casey. But this confirmed bachelor has no intentions of getting caught in any woman’s crosshairs; especially a hunter as appealing as Alex. It’ll take skill, determination, and a little romantic persuasion for this big-game hunter to bag her prey.

Manhunt is a silly, light read that is perfect for giving you a boost while waiting for a plane, working on the laundry, or avoiding the ever growing stack of bills.  Well, I can’t really condone avoiding bills, so pay those bills and open Manhunt for a quick laugh!

Evanovich is well known for her Stephanie Plum series, but did you know that she began her career writing stand alone romances?  Manhunt is one such novel and is set in the wild country of Alaska.  Side note for avid Evanovich fans and serious connoisseurs of romance novels:  The characters are a tad bit underdeveloped.  Fans of the Plum books may be disappointed in Manhunt’s simplicity, but you shouldn’t be.  It still has Evanovich’s quirky fun characters and quick pace.  Romance readers may be disappointed in the lack of smut.  Sorry about that.  The between-the-sheets scenes are a tad awkward, but this is one of her early novels.

So, Alex has moved to Alaska to find happiness and a husband.  Instead, she finds a dilapidated cabin and Casey, her sexy next door neighbor who is too sexy for husband material.  But, she is determined to make it all work and what follows is quite entertaining.    I can definitely see myself making many of the same mistakes adjusting to Alaska life.  Alex’s spunk and hardheaded drive was just endearing; I’m still giggling about the outhouse incident.  I even liked Casey!  But I was drawn to Manhunt because I love the idea of Alex dropping everything to make a life somewhere new.  I’ve done it before and I always enjoy reading about others’ adventures.

Manhunt need more detail.  I just felt that one more good edit would have left the novel feeling more developed.  I would have liked more about the ‘non-Casey’ Alaskan activities that Alex learns to love.  There should have been more details about her learning about fishing and her friendship with Andy.  And, it irked me that Alex was ‘working’ on Casey because she decided that he needed to be married to her.  We know she loves him but the constant emphasis on marriage was too pushy.

Its a fun read!  I giggled, smiled, and was in a better mood afterwards.  Plus, I got to read about characters warming up Alaska instead of just surviving the cold! 😛  Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

East of Desolation

 

East of Desolation

by Jack Higgins

East of Desolation

Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…

I couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf.  A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane?  Are you kidding me?  This book was just begging me to read it!  I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.

So I’ll start with the positives.  I like the main character, Joe Martin.  He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland.  Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier.  Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements.   The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane.  It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting.  I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.

Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid.  ALL THREE OF THEM.  It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968.  These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché.  Here are their descriptions:

1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore

2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil

3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny

Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe.  There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women?  They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.

East of Desolation is a decent book.  Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting.  It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.

Are you a Jack Higgins fan?  These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!

Lindsay

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

by Nora Roberts

Northern Lights

The town of Lunacy, Alaska, was Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he’d watched his partner die on the street – and the guilt still haunts him. With nowhere else to go, he accepts the job as chief of police in this tiny, remote Alaskan town. Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose, he finds his first few weeks on the job are relatively quiet. But just as he wonders whether this has been all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss on New Year’s Eve under the brilliant Northern Lights of the Alaskan sky lifts his spirits and convinces him to stay just a little longer.

Meg Galloway, born and raised in Lunacy, is used to being alone. She was a young girl when her father disappeared, and she has learned to be independent, flying her small plane, living on the outskirts of town with just her huskies for company. After her New Year’s kiss with the chief of police, she allows herself to give in to passion – while remaining determined to keep things as simple as possible. But there’s something about Nate’s sad eyes that gets under her skin and warms her frozen heart.

And now, things in Lunacy are heating up. Years ago, on one of the majestic mountains shadowing the town, a crime occurred that is unsolved to this day – and Nate suspects that a killer still walks the snowy streets. His investigation will unearth the secrets and suspicions that lurk beneath the placid surface, as well as bring out the big-city survival instincts that made him a cop in the first place. And his discovery will threaten the new life – and the new love – that he has finally found for himself.

I’m not going to provide a summary of Northern Lights because the synopsis does a pretty good job.  I am going to say that I enjoy Northern Lights.  I love the town of Lunacy, Alaska; I like how the citizens of the town feel like one big family.  And, I love Nate Burke!  I am a sucker for a descently written cop character, and Nate Burke definitely fits the mold.  He is kind, caring, tortured, dedicated, and good at what he does.  The job is a part of him and he just can’t abandon it; even when he runs from his past in Boston.  Nate Burke is the reason I have read Northern Lights multiple times.

But a good story needs more than just a stellar leading man.  Lunacy has it all with a loveable cast of characters and a compelling mystery.  Roberts provides a varied group of supporting individuals who are all well-rounded.  Each has their flaws as well as their redeeming qualities, and my favorites are Hop and the Professor.  Roberts is a master of writing an intriguing mystery that keeps you guessing but doesn’t give you indigestion by force feeding you unnecessary suspense.

I did have a hard time liking Meg Galloway, which is not good for the main love interest.  I couldn’t stand her my first read but I found my opinion changed some the second time around.  Roberts intended her to be a strong, independent, and somewhat cold woman.  I can’t help but see her as a spoiled brat; high maintenance but not as whiny as her mother, Charlene.  It probably didn’t help that I listened to the audiobook and a man provided the voices.  All his female characters sounded a tad whiny.  I will say that this time I did enjoy the competent and strong pilot side of Meg.  I had more respect for her this time, but I still couldn’t get behind her romance with Nate.

Roberts had me enthralled with Lunacy just with her basic survival descriptions.  I never thought of erecting a guide rope to keep people from straying away from the buildings in a blizzard.  And, Roberts does an amazing job accurately depicting the attitudes of the pilots.  That’s another reason I just keep coming back to this book!

I like Northern Lights and the fun, light reads that Nora Roberts produces.  There is a TV movie but I couldn’t force myself to watch it.  There is no way that Leann Rimes could pull off the competent pilot aspect of Meg Galloway.  Just, no.  I do recommend the book though, so let me know what you think!

Lindsay

What to Expect – JANUARY

There are some exciting changes coming to Sand Between the Pages in 2015!  Don’t worry; you will still get plenty of book reviews.  The new additions are designed to make the site more personal, so here is the list of changes:

1.  I am back on Twitter!  There is a new Contact page where you can find links to Twitter and my other social media sites.  This is also where authors requesting reviews can find instructions on reaching me.

2. I have big writing goals for 2015 and I will end each month with an update post on my Works-In-Progress.  This is designed to keep me motivated and give me a chance to talk writing with all of you!

3.  There will be a What to Expect post at the beginning of each month.  These posts are to let you know the type of reviews to expect during the month.  I am definitely a mood/theme reader and I like to give you a heads up.  So, without further ado…

What to Expect – JANUARY

 

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January.  Its cold, dreary, and very rainy here in Florida.  I am so thankful that I do not live where it snows.  I love to watch it snow.  I love to ski and snow tube.  I do not like to be cold.  I can barely handle Florida’s winter!!!

We went snow skiing most Januarys of my childhood. My parents would pack up the old diesel Chevy Suburban and hit the road to Colorado.  I spent these trips wrapped in my My Little Pony sleeping bag and my nose buried in a book.  I learned during these vacations not to eat funny colored snow, that I was quite a graceful skier for such a clumsy person, and that falling snow is breath taking.  I both loved and loathed these trips.  See, I don’t like being cold and snow is cold.  I can handle visiting but people actually CHOOSE to live in these places!!!

January finds me reminiscing about these trips and eager to read books about arctic survival.  I am enthralled by people who can tough out such extreme weather.  This is why I am so fascinated with both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest dog sled races.  This year I am going to keep track of both of them!  (I can do stuff like that now that I am out of school)

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The next two weeks will be filled with stories of arctic survival, dog sledding, and mystery.  I hope you’re as excited as I am!  Grab some hot chocolate and a good book and enjoy the falling snow if you can!

Lindsay

Why, hello 2015…

So, I know that 2015 has been around for almost two weeks but, I’ll be honest, the year just didn’t start with a good bang for me.  I was sick (still am) and I just couldn’t get positive about my coming year.  I could only focus on the negative; the towering amount of college debt that I have to start paying off and having to find a ‘big girl’ job so I can actually pay the bills.  I know; life could be much worse.  But it was still hard to swallow in my already whiny and sick state.  So, I waited to write this post and have forced myself to think positively the last 13 days.

Last year was pretty darn good.  I got to see my family and spend plenty of time at the beach.  I rediscovered my passion for both writing and reading.  I started Sand Between the Pages!  I FINALLY graduated from grad school; as did my best friend.  Plus, Mike and I bought our first house.  2014 was quite wonderful!  I am confident that 2015 will be even better.

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2015 is going to be a year of change.  I finally have time to focus on my health and the weight has already started to fall off now that the holiday food is all gone.  I will be moving on to a new career.  Now idea what career that will be, which is both exciting and terrifying, but the time has come for me to discover something new.  I am going to continue reading.  I want to write more, and I have already made great progress on my current projects!  I turn 29 in just three short days…

I just plan to rediscover me.  More flying, diving, kayaking, and being outside.  Dedicating time to writing, reading, and enjoying my favorite TV shows.  More reviews and exciting updates for Sand Between the Pages!  And more lazy afternoons with a good book at the beach.  Yep, 2015 is going to be a good one!

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I mean, what better way to read at the beach?!?!  What big plans do you have for this year?

Lindsay

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his pr
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

I started reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry on sheer impulse.  I was wandering around Target in a irked mood wasting time in the book section when I spotted this novel on the Target Book Club shelves.  I like the cover so I read the synopsis on the back and was drawn in by the promise of an uplifting story.  I needed an uplifting story, so I read it.

I was immediately drawn in by A.J. Fikry.  I love how brutally honest, awkward, and tortured he is.  he had me hooked during his meeting and I felt like I was sitting next to him as he drank his anguish away.  He is content with being miserable and it takes the theft of his prize possession along with the arrival of a surprise package for A.J. to get his life together.  The first third of the book is what I enjoyed because it depicts the healing of A.J. Fikry.

The other two-thirds of the novel is why The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry was just ok.  It was not an outstanding story but don’t be surprised if it still shows up on your book club list.  I’m not sure in what genre it belongs because Zevin has produced a novel that is adult fiction, romance, chick-lit, and young adult.  It started out as a solid piece of adult fiction and just rolled in to chick-lit as the prose developed.  It isn’t something that I would normally read because I prefer my chick-lit to be more humorous; more romantic comedy than drama.

This was to be a story that documented the interesting life of A.J. Fickry and it just stopped doing that after the first third of the novel.  It was less about A.J. and Maya, and more about Amelia, Ismay, and Lambaise.  I enjoyed some of the supporting characters, with young Maya and Lambaise being my favorites, but I felt like it was just missing something.  And we needed to hear Maya’s voice at the end.  Her influence on A.J. required her reaction.

It’s a good book.  I love the reviews/notes that A.J. leaves for Maya.  I liked the mystery behind the missing copy of Tamerlane.  I cried, not because of the writing, but because I needed a good cry and A.J. was a character I could cry for.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was different, and I agree that the first part of the novel was very uplifting.  It was the right book at the right time for me. Have you read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry?  What did you think?

Lindsay

Six Geese A-Slaying

Here are the reviews of the two Christmas stories I finished last month.  Sorry it took so long to get these to you!  Enjoy!

Six Geese A-Slaying

by Donna Andrews

 Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10)

Meg and Michael’s house is serving as the marshaling point for the annual Caerphilly Christmas parade. The theme is “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and it features twelve drummers from the school marching band, eleven bagpipers, ten leaping lords costumed in medieval finery from the college drama department, etc. There are also assorted Christmas-themed floats, a live nativity scene on a flatbed truck, the Three Wise Men on Caerphilly zoo camels, and Santa Claus in a bright red horse-drawn sleigh (eight reindeer were beyond the zoo’s scope).  Meg has been volunteered to organize the parade, which is to proceed from her house to the local campus, where Santa will take up residence to hear the Christmas wishes of the town’s children. Of course, getting all the camels, pipers, leapers, and drummers in order is proving every bit as difficult as Meg feared it would be. Then her nephew Eric, wide-eyed and ashen-faced, whispers, “Meg, something’s wrong with Santa.”  The local curmudgeon, whose beard and belly made him a natural for the role, has been murdered. Now Meg and Chief Burke, who is playing one of the wise men, are faced with the two-fold mission of solving the murder and saving Christmas!

Meg is the Mistress of the Revels, the woman in charge of the Caerphilly Holiday Parade.  This means that she is responsible for wrangling the town, and most of her family, in order to deliver the perfect parade.  All is surprisingly working out until Santa Claus, played by the rather unsavory Mr. Doleson, is murdered in the pig barn.  Meg’s farm is now a crime scene.  To make matters worse, it turns out that that Mr. Doleson has been blackmailing most of the town.  Everyone in the parade is a suspect, so Meg does her own snooping while keeping a big city reporter at bay.  It’s just a typical Caerphilly Christmas!

I always enjoy Andrews’ cozy-mysteries.  The curious and brutally honest Meg is a kindred spirit!  Just remember, these are cozy-mysteries, so don’t worry about how many murders occur on Meg’s farm over the series; just go with it!

Six Geese A-Slaying is the tenth book in the series and was just not as funny as I had expected.  The first novel in the series, Murder with Peacocks, had me crying I was laughing so hard.  This installment was good but I didn’t laugh until I peed myself.  Instead, I giggled some, smiled, and enjoyed a pleasant chapter or two each night.  The writing felt a tad rushed and the novel had a difficult time holding my attention with all the holiday craziness happening around me.  Also, the e-book version that I read had numerous continuity errors when it came to spelling, but I am sure this is not an issue for the printed copy.

I love the cast of characters, and that folks, is the reason why I keep coming back to this series.  The characters are wonderful and I feel like I am meeting up with old friends each time I read one of these books.  I adore Meg’s crazy family and her sweet husband.  My favorites are Meg’s dad and stubborn Meg!  These characters are real, funny, and just sincere through the entire series.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts (so much funnier in context):

 

“I was still standing on the back porch, adjusting to the cold and looking around for Clarence, when I heard Michael’s voice.

“This is Ernest,” Michael was saying.  “Our first llama.”

First llama?  I’d been referring to him as ‘the’ llama.”

This was the perfect Christmas cozy-mystery.  I enjoyed the description of the parade preparations and what could be better than the police chief riding a camel, Santa on a motorcycle, and 36 geese a-laying?  Are you a fan of Donna Andrews?  Which book is your favorite?

Lindsay