Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Growing Up in Ranch Park in the 1960s: A True Blessing


A shorter version of this story was submitted to the Coquitlam125 website. You can read it here:
http://www.coquitlam125.ca/growing-up-in-ranch-park

From 1963 to 1982 I lived in Ranch Park. My parents, Bill and Marlene, my sisters, Karen and Joanne, me and our 3 cats lived on The Lazy A Street. I still drive by our house and through the neighbourhood quite frequently as my church, Coquitlam Alliance Church, is located at the top of Ranch Park. Our home had an amazing view of the Golden Ears, Mount Baker in Washington state (a volcano) and the Coquitlam River valley.




Lazy A is the crescent in the middle of the photo.


One of my friends once proclaimed that growing up in Ranch Park was like growing up on the television show “The Wonder Years”. And she was right. Ranch Park, particularly on Lazy A Street, was a magical place to grow up in the 1960s. 



My parents bought our quarter acre lot in 1959. In 1963, shortly after I was born they built their dream house. It was a mid-century modern that they designed themselves. Both my parents had grown up in East Van and were thrilled with the large lot and the gardens and lawns they soon developed.
In 1967, my father had a large hole dug in our back yard and using forms from one of our neighbours (Mr. Ellison, a shop teacher) and had our pool built. The excavators dumped all the dirt from the excavation into three big piles onto the lot next door which conveniently belonged to my parent’s best friends, Sunny and Don. Those three big piles of dirt became play "homes" for the neighbourhood kids. We all played house together on those big piles of dirt. Such a wonderful memory.




Lazy A and the surrounding streets were filled with young families. There were so many children of every age, shape and size. We were like one big family. We all knew everything about everyone. There were no play dates in those days, you just went outside and you immediately found someone to play with. Or you would knock on their door and out they would come, ready to play. Our mothers knew we were around somewhere. I knew she would call (and by call I mean stand on the sundeck and yell out our name) when lunch was ready.



Ranch Park was very isolated in the 1960s. We were Coquitlam yet our mailing address was Port Coquitlam. It was very confusing. There were no corner stores in Ranch Park. There were no services of any kind. Harry’s Corner, which was an old dilapidated gas station, was at the corner of Westwood and Dewdney Trunk. In the 1960s, Westwood was the Lougheed Highway. There were still farms along Dewdney Trunk. Children who lived on those farms went to school with us. During the summer when we were bored, we would walk to Como Lake Village to get candy. It was a 3 km walk one way. And we surrounded by bush. Oh the adventures we had. We would cross streams on logs, manoeuvre through swamps, knock down spider webs as we traversed through paths surrounded by giant, moss covered cedars and endless ferns. Ranch Park Elementary School was surrounded by forest on two sides. Everyone who grew up in Ranch Park remembers The Rocks!  We would jump from one giant granite boulder to another. I sprained my ankle twice on The Rocks. My ankle still gives me issues! Summer nights the kids in the neighbourhood would just all naturally come together. We would play kick the can and hide and seek until the street lights came on which meant it was time to go home. And we all did. Those spontaneous games still bring me joy when I think about all the fun we had.



One winter when I was probably around six years old, we had a tremendous snowstorm. We often would slide our sleds, toboggans or crazy carpets down the slopped pathway into Ranch Park between the Brook’s and Washington’s houses. But this particular year someone decided to slide down Daybreak. So soon everyone was sliding down Daybreak. I’ll never forget my father trudging up the hill in his suit carrying his briefcase looking miserable. He couldn’t get his sports car up the hill so had to leave it somewhere at the bottom like everyone else. I thought he was pretty cranky that day until a police car with chains came up Daybreak and told us all to go home and told the adults that they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Daybreak to become a sheet of ice. We all ignored him and basically went back to sledding.



Lazy A is a crescent that surrounds the actual park called Ranch Park. Every summer, the Coquitlam Parks Board put up a shed in the park as in all the other parks in Coquitlam. There was an activity person on staff every week day. The shed was filled with every piece of sports and play equipment you can imagine. As soon as the activity director who was usually a young college student, we would all flood into the park. We spent our days there playing every game imaginable. I learned my lesson pretty quick and disappeared as soon as Red Rover started. I had sticks for arms and was always a good target for breaking through. We had field trips once a week to places like Alouette Lake, White Rock, Stanley Park and anywhere that there was something fun to do. A big bus would pick us and our park activity person up along with kids from the other parks and off we would go. No parents were there helicoptering over us to make sure we were safe.



Every afternoon my mother would invite neighbours, relatives and friends over to swim in the pool. Thinking back on the amount of treats available every afternoon during these swimming parties, I am amazed I stayed stick thin all those years! My sisters and I were like fish in the water. We spent hours in that pool playing with other children. What fun we had! We would tan for hours experimenting with baby oil to get better tans and putting lemon juice in our hair to make it blonder. 



Indeed, growing up in Coquitlam in the 1960s and the 1970s really was the Wonder Years. I am so blessed to have grown up in such a fun and beautiful neighbourhood. Our panoramic view of the Golden Ears, the Pitt and Fraser River Valleys and Mount Baker was spectacular and I wish I had appreciated it more growing up. I am thankful my parents picked such an amazing place for my sisters and I to grow up.

**The photos are all courtesy of my mother Marlene and my grandfather Sandy. 

Review: Play with Fire Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God By Bianca Juarez Olthoff





  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1182 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (Aug. 30 2016)
  • Sold by: Zondervan CA (CA SOR)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01863JK76

Book Description

 Play with Fire, the debut book by popular speaker and teacher Bianca Juarez Olthoff, is the reminder that God isn’t waiting until you have more resources or a spouse or a job so he can use you. He’s ready to use you now.

Using the mythical creature, the Phoenix, which was also referenced by early church leaders, she parallels this story with God’s work in her own life, highlighting the beauty of reinvention with fire as both the impetus and the method for change. Olthoff reminds us that we serve a God who is redemptive and can take the worst situations and use them for His glory.

Play With Fire is a bible-infused message that will help women discover:

  • The way out of the middle is moving forward
  • The personal and powerful nature of the Holy Spirit
  • The power and sacrifice of transformation
  • The unique calling and purpose of life involves transformation

With Olthoff’s distinct style, strong storytelling gifts, and powerful bible teaching, Play with Fire will remind readers that God has huge dreams for them. In Bianca’s words, “He’s whispering in the wind and speaking through the fire and shouting in silence the extraordinary dream He is birthing in you. His dream for you is far greater than the dream you have for yourself. It’s not your identity or income or influence that will make this happen. Like Zechariah 4:6 says, “’It’s not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord.” It’s time to play with fire.


Everyone needs a friend like Bianca. I’m certain my mind would explode if I had two. She isn’t afraid to run with knives, grab her knees and jump off big cliffs, or see how thick the ice is by running out on it. She also isn’t afraid to live her life as if God’s promises are really true, rather than a bunch of right- sounding doctrine we interact with by just agreeing. This isn’t just a book about Bianca’s journey. It’s an invitation to yours. It’s not a trail of bread crumbs Bianca is giving us, it’s a box of matches. She dares us to light the first one, throw it back in the box we’ve made of our faith, and see what happens next. (–Bob Goff, New York Times bestselling author of Love Does)

Bianca, thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your story as well as the truths you’ve discovered along the way. This book is a treasure. If you’re experiencing a struggle, desire to know God on a more passionate level, or simply want to be encouraged, you’ve found the perfect book! (-Kari Jobe)

En fuego! Bianca is on fire. Her words form a pathway--- through her own journey---to freedom and transformation. Her raw honesty and unwavering belief in God’s plan for your life is contagious, and I’m excited to see how this book sparks a wildfire of faith. (–Jen Hatmaker, speaker and New York Times bestselling author of For the Love)

Change and transformation isn’t easy, but using her personal story and the stories of others throughout the Bible, Bianca shares with us ways to not only survive the flames of life, but THRIVE in the midst of trials. As a mentor and guide in her life, I’m excited that Bianca shares her journey to help others become the people God has called them to be through understanding the power of the Holy Spirit. Not only has Bianca written about the transforming power of God, she has lived it out. (–Christine Caine, bestselling author, teacher, and founder of A21 and Propel Women)

Having the privilege of being one of Bianca’s best friends since high school, I saw firsthand how she has loved, lived, and led as Jesus did. Her book, Play with Fire, brings a real, transparent truth with a splash of her quirky sense of humor. These are a few of the qualities that I love about her! I pray this book will ignite a fire in your life and encourage you to trust the Lord through the flames and enter into your own “Promised Land” in full faith. (–Jennie Finch, USA Olympic Softball Gold Medalist)

When someone reads Bible Scriptures regarding fire, they usually interpret them within the context of sin or damnation. However, Bianca’s clear voice in Play with Fire is carefully crafted to convey God’s holy presence and the divine power to change the inner life of sincere seekers desiring a radical change. As her father and pastor, I am wholesomely proud of her work! I’ve witnessed my daughter transform into a woman of strength and integrity, and that is nothing short than going through a refining fire. (–Pancho Juárez, Pastor, Calvary Chapel, Montebello, California)

I love this book written by my fiery Puerto Rican sister, Bianca! Her transparent stories will stir your passion and position you to f lourish amid the fires of chaos, exhaustion, and confusion. (–Lisa Bevere, Messenger International, bestselling author of Lioness Arising, Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry, and Fight Like a Girl)

Beyond the narrative, the humorous anecdotes, and personal stories, Play with Fire is proof of God’s redeeming love. I was reminded that fire---those painful moments in life---can refine or ruin me, but God will see to walking me through. Bianca wrote her story with grace and care as further proof that all things work together for the glory of the kingdom. Such an inspiring read! (–Jasmine Star, Branding Strategist and Marketing Consultant)

Play with Fire will make you laugh, make you cry, and open your eyes to the power of God to transform your life. Bianca Juárez Olthoff has the rare ability to weave beautiful Biblical truth into her own story of transformation. You will love the power and freshness that Bianca teaches with. Play with Fire is the book you stay up late to finish because you can’t put it down! (–Alli Worthington, author of Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy)


About the Author

I’m a writer and teacher in love with two men: Jesus and my husband, Matt. [You might not find this funny, but I laugh at myself, so it all balances out.]

I didn’t learn how to read until I was eleven, but now I can’t put down books. I ask questions, but most times I don’t want the answer unless it’s something I want to hear. I believe in a faithful God, even when I’m faithless. I’m a woman who loves God and is committed to speaking truth when it hurts, loving when it’s hard, and living life out loud.

I spend most of my time working as Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organization. By day I’m a freedom writer who advocates for justice, but at night I’m a step-mom who loves to have dance parties with Parker, Ryen, and Ricci [aka The Cutest Dog In The World].
Passionate about God’s word, I teach around the globe and blog about life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus.
Whether discussing topics from justice to pop culture, I’ve spent ten years building the Church and mobilizing God’s people to action alongside Matt, Lead Outreach Pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. I am so excited about the publication of my first book, Play With Fire, which you can pre-order today!


 http://www.biancaolthoff.com/

My Review

I discovered author and speaker Bianca Juarez Olthoff while watching the Propel series. While Christine Caine hosted the series, Bianca was one of the Christian leader participants. I enjoyed listening to her views on women and biblical truths. I also am following along with the Play With Fire Propel Book Club on Facebook. The first 2 books the book club covered were by Caine and by Alli Worthington. Both excellent books. I really enjoyed Bianca Juarez Olthoff's Play With Fire as well.

Play With Fire is a stand alone book but I also noticed that there is a study guide and a DVD. I recommended Christine Caine's Unashamed to my ladies bible study group and we are studying it this Fall. I would also recommend Play With Fire.

Play With Fire is a good read for women who are beginning their walk with Christ. Bianca goes through her life story with us and we travel through grief, desperation, and pain with her. But we also get to celebrate her victories with her. And her search for a purpose. I liked her A-ha moment in Chapter 1 where she decides to transform her life...she gets her butt off the couch and gets out there. She realizes that she needs to do something important with her life. It is a good lesson for all of us. And in the end she realizes that everything she been through in life is preparing her for her life as a Christian speaker, pastor's wife, stepmother, and now author.

I like Bianca. She is real and honest and a devout Christian. She has shared her life story with us. She is encouraging. By sharing her story with us we are encouraged to believe in ourselves and get moving. We need to find our own Promised Land.

I like that at the end of the acknowledgements she writes: And if you read this page too, thank you for staying through the whole journey. You are my favorite.

Well Bianca, you did great job with your first book. I am looking forward to many more.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: All the Little Liars (Aurora Teagarden #9) by Charlaine Harris




  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1217 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250090032
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Oct. 4 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01D8F63DQ



Book Description

#1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris returns to her Aurora Teagarden mystery series with a fabulous new book featuring the small-town Southern librarian.

Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.

While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.

After more than a decade, #1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris finally returns to her fan-favorite Aurora Teagarden series with All the Little Liars, a fabulously fun new mystery.


About the Author

Charlaine Harris has been a published novelist for over twenty-five years. A native of the Mississippi Delta, she grew up in the middle of a cotton field. Now she lives in southern Arkansas with her husband, her three children, three dogs, and a duck. The duck stays outside.

Though her early output consisted largely of ghost stories, by the time she hit college (Rhodes, in Memphis) Charlaine was writing poetry and plays. After holding down some low-level jobs, she had the opportunity to stay home and write, and the resulting two stand-alones were published by Houghton Mifflin. After a child-producing sabbatical, Charlaine latched on to the trend of writing mystery series, and soon had her own traditional books about a Georgia librarian, Aurora Teagarden. Her first Teagarden, Real Murders, garnered an Agatha nomination.

Soon Charlaine was looking for another challenge, and the result was the much darker Lily Bard series. The books, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas, feature a heroine who has survived a terrible attack and is learning to live with its consequences.

When Charlaine began to realize that neither of those series was ever going to set the literary world on fire, she regrouped and decided to write the book she’d always wanted to write. Not a traditional mystery, nor yet pure science fiction or romance, Dead Until Dark broke genre boundaries to appeal to a wide audience of people who just enjoy a good adventure. Each subsequent book about Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic Louisiana barmaid and friend to vampires, werewolves, and various other odd creatures, has drawn more readers. The Southern Vampire books are published in Japan, Great Britain, Greece, Germany, Thailand, Spain, France, and Russia.

In addition to Sookie, Charlaine has another heroine with a strange ability. Harper Connelly, lightning-struck and strange, can find corpses… and that’s how she makes her living.

In addition to her work as a writer, Charlaine is the past senior warden of St. James Episcopal Church, a board member of Mystery Writers of America, a past board member of Sisters in Crime, a member of the American Crime Writers League, and past president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. She spends her "spare" time reading, watching her daughter play sports, traveling, and going to the movies.


My Review

All the Little Liars is the ninth Aurora Teagarden mystery by author Charlaine Harris. This is the first  book in the series that I have read and the first book written by Charlaine Harris that I have read. I am obviously coming late to this party as I really enjoyed Harris's writing style.

The Hallmark Channel has brought the Aurora Teagarden series to life and obviously renewed interest in the series which had not seen a new edition for over a decade. I liked that this ninth book, All the Little Liars, was set in the present. The author did not feel the need to head back to the early 2000s. Social media and electronic devices are all featured in this tale of bullying, murder and mystery.

I enjoyed the characters in All the Little Liars. I felt like I knew everyone instantly even though I had not read another book in the series. I liked the setting of small town suburban Atlanta. I looked forward to delving back into the book whenever I had to put the book down. The mystery aspect had me puzzled for quite some time. All the Little Liars refers to a group of girls who are bullying another girl...a girl who ends up being on the kidnapped youths.

I liked Aurora a lot. She is honest and I loved how the book explored all of her thoughts. I liked how she dealt with her rude father. Right on! She is not afraid of anyone. I hope Charlaine Harris is planning on more Aurora Teagarden books!

Highly recommend All the Little Liars.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review: Pushing Up Daisies (Agatha Raisin #27) by M.C. Beaton



  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2031 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Sept. 20 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01CCWVTYY


Book Description

When Agatha Raisin left behind her PR business in London, she fulfilled her dream of settling in the cozy British Cotswolds where she began a successful private detective agency. Unfortunately, the village she lives in is about to get a little less cozy. Lord Bellington, a wealthy land developer, wants to turn the community garden into a housing estate. When Agatha and her friend Sir Charles Fraith attempt to convince Lord Bellington to abandon his plans he scoffs: “Do you think I give a damn about those pesky villagers?” So when Agatha finds his obituary in the newspaper two weeks later, it’s no surprise that some in town are feeling celebratory.

The villagers are relieved to learn that Bellington’s son and heir, Damian, has no interest in continuing his father’s development plans. But the police are definitely interested in him―as suspect number one. His father’s death, it seems, was no accident. But when Damian hires Agatha to find the real killer, she finds no shortage of suspects. The good news is that a handsome retired detective named Gerald has recently moved to town. Too bad he was seen kissing another newcomer. But when she is also found murdered, Gerald is eager to help Agatha with the case. Agatha, Gerald, and her team of detectives must untangle a web of contempt in order to uncover a killer’s identity.



“Agatha Raisin is in top form in bestseller Beaton’s 27th mystery…a twisty plot, a familiar cast of eccentric characters, and a charming English country setting mean that lovers of cozy mysteries will be satisfied indeed.”
Publishers Weekly

“It’s fast paced, with lots of twists and turns, hilarity, and quiet moments when you think maybe, just maybe, Agatha will get a grip.”
Booklist


About the Author

Like her on Facebook!

Learn more on her website!

Watch a video of Marion discussing the casting of the AGATHA RAISIN Christmas special

Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.


My Review


Pushing Up Daisies is the twenty-seventh book in the Agatha Raisin mystery series by M.C. Beaton. I love Agatha Raisin. What can I say. This book is a great addition to the series.

Pushing Up Daisies brings the reader back to the Cotswold...treasure of the English countryside.  There are plenty of fascinating characters to keep the reader enthralled. The main story centers around unpopular Lord Bellington who is murdered. Agatha and her team sort out that mess whilst Agatha falls for unsuitable men and tries to keep Charles away from any women but her.

Agatha Raisin novels are always a pure delight. Agatha is the aunt or the friend you wish you had in your life. I enjoy being lost Agatha's world.

Highly recommend this entire series. Pushing Up Daisies is another winner.




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Downfall (Joanna Brady #17) by J.A. Jance




  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1156 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (Sept. 6 2016)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017R4JVOC

Book Description

 Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady returns in this outstanding new mystery set in the beautiful desert country of the Southwest.

With a baby on the way, her mother and stepfather recently slain, a re-election campaign looming, and a daughter heading off for college, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady has her hands full when a puzzling new case hits her department, demanding every resource she has at her disposal.

Two women have fallen to their deaths from a small nearby peak, referred to by Bisbee locals as Geronimo. What’s the connection between these two women? Is this a case of murder/suicide or is it a double homicide? And if someone else is responsible, is it possible that the perpetrator may, even now, be on the hunt for another victim?


About the Author

 Judith Ann Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

My Review

 Downfall is the seventeenth Joanna Brady mystery novel by J.A. Jance. I have been enjoying this series for years. Downfall is a great addition to the series.

Joanna is expecting again. Her son Dennis is growing fast and her daughter is off to university. Her mother and step-father's memorial service is pending. And if Joanna did not have enough stress to deal with, two women's bodies are found after they had plunged from local mountain peak, Geronimo. Did they fall or were they pushed? Did they know one another?

One of the local women, a schoolteacher, seems to have been leading a double life. Could one of the school boys she preyed upon be the killer? Joanna is determined to find the answer and the answer is close to home.

Good story. I like the continuity of the Brady family world. Fans of this series will be delighted with the latest in the series, Downfall.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: The Homeplace: A Mystery by Kevin Wolf



  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 964 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Sept. 6 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01BSNFRAA

Book Description

 Chase Ford was the first of four generations of Ford men to leave Comanche County, Colorado. For Chase, leaving saved the best and hid the worst. But now, he has come home. His friends are right there waiting for him. And so are his enemies.

Then the murder of a boy, a high school basketball star just like Chase, rocks the small town. And when another death is discovered— one that also shares unsettling connections to him—attention turns towards Chase, causing him to wonder just what he came home to.

A suspenseful, dramatic crime novel, Kevin Wolf's The Homeplace captures the stark beauty of life on the plains of Colorado.


****

"The Homeplace is one of those rare books that transcends genre and challenges our sensibilities with its no-holds-barred treatment of whatever's left of small town Americana. Culled from the rarefied air of James Lee Burke, Greg Iles and John Hart, Kevin Wolf has fashioned a painstakingly perfect tale of murder, angst, and the enduring power of the human spirit. If the late, great Pat Conroy had ever decided to write a mystery, this would be it. An instant classic that is not to be missed." ―Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of the Caitlin Strong series

“It has been said that story-telling has only two plots: Somebody takes a trip. Or a stranger comes to town. In Kevin Wolf’s terrific debut mystery The Homeplace, the author weaves the two plot strands into one seamless story that grabs readers on the first page and carries them right through to its memorable conclusion. Wolf writes smoothly and clearly and stays out of the way, letting his characters carry the story. The author’s knowledge of small-town law enforcement, Colorado, and outdoor fieldcraft shines. I expect and hope to see more from Mr. Wolf and these characters in the seasons ahead.” ―Joseph Heywood, author of the Woods Cop mysteries

The Homeplace kept me reading well beyond my bedtime. Kevin Wolf has a natural ability at pacing, and he tells a story that moves along without a single wasted moment, weaving people you come to care about, and their personal stories, in a seamless narrative that builds tension chapter by chapter.” ―Robert Bausch, author of Far as the Eye Can See

“Kevin Wolf’s debut novel, The Homeplace, succeeds in every way. He has crafted a gripping, fast-paced narrative with beautifully-drawn characters in an authentic and interesting small-town Colorado setting. Not only is the mystery compelling, but so are the characters. Even if there were no murders to solve, you would still want to spend time with these fascinating people whose lives echo the sparse and gorgeous landscape they inhabit and whose pasts refuse to leave them to their futures.” ―Christine Carbo, author of The Wild Inside

"Kevin Wolf’s debut novel is a stunner, beautifully realized in language as pure and constant as the Colorado prairie winds. The Homeplace is populated with small town characters that have the ring of truth as they struggle with their intertwining histories and the restless hopes and dreams that lead them to violence and redemption. This is a mystery with great heart and a tender yet tough appreciation for the simple passions that both divide and unite us. Mr. Wolf is a first-rate storyteller." ―James Anderson, author of The Never-Open Desert Diner

“In The Homeplace, Kevin Wolf creates a compelling cross between a modern-day Western and a murder mystery with a story that centers around Chase Ford, the damaged hero who returns to his home town to find it turned upside down by three murders. The Homeplace is not only a terrific mystery but also a wonderfully evocative examination of the difficulties of going home and the baggage that awaits us there.” ―Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury

"A humdinger of a first novel that brings together several gripping storylines, an appealingly flawed hero, and an intimate sense of life in small-town America." ―Kirkus Reviews

"Filled with brilliant well-placed descriptions of small town moodiness, politics, and gossip, Kevin Wolf has written a solid mystery which is abundant with unexpected twists in all the right places. The emotional intensity of the plot contrasts nicely with the sullen beauty of the open prairie." ―Colorado Book Review

"Wolf manages to mix a trip down memory lane with a lovely, old-fashioned whodunit." ―Booklist
"Similar to Hillerman’s, the prose here is clear-eyed and non-flashy. The characters are vivid. And the mystery is a grabber, with an everyman undertow." ―The New York Journal of Books

"Winner of the 2015 Tony Hillerman Prize, this cross between a Western and a murder mystery will please Craig Johnson and C.J. Box aficionados." ―Library Journal


About the Author

 Kevin Wolf is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Crested Butte Writers. The great-grandson of Colorado homesteaders, he enjoys fly fishing, old Winchesters and 1950s Western movies. He lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife and two beagles.


My Review

The Homeplace is the first novel by new author Kevin Wolf. I knew that I wanted to read this book as soon as I knew that The Homeplace was the 2015 winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize. Every other novel that has won the Hillerman prize has been a winner and The Homeplace is no exception.

I loved The Homeplace. I felt the author Wolf really captured the essence of the Eastern Colorado countryside. I felt like I was there...immersed in the community. The characters were all fascinating and well written. I enjoyed learning more about every one of them. The murder mystery aspect of The Homeplace was well plotted and easily grabbed my attention.

I had a hard time putting down The Homeplace. I was entranced by the story and the characters. Damaged hometown hero Chase Ford is home to chase down some ghosts. As he reconnects with the people of his childhood, bodies sort showing up. All the murders seem to be connected but who could be the murderer? It is quite the ride to find out.

I highly recommend The Homeplace. The ending was extremely satisfying. I am looking forward to Kevin Wolf's next book.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Great Escapes Blog Tour: A Story to Kill (Cat Latimer Mystery #1) by Lynn Cahoon




  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1392 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (Aug. 30 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0190HGVK6




Tour Participants

August 29 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
August 29 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW
August 30 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 30 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT
August 31 – Ashleyz Wonderland – REVIEW
August 31 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
September 1 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW
September 1 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW
September 2 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW
September 2 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST
September 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
September 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
September 4 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – REVIEW
September 5 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW, GUEST POST
September 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 6 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
September 7 – MysteriestEtc – REVIEW
September 7 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
September 8 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW
September 8 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
September 9 – Book Babble – REVIEW
September 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
September 10 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
September 11 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
September 11 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Description

 A new series from the author of the Tourist Trap Mysteries!






Former English professor Cat Latimer is back in Colorado, hosting writers’ retreats in the big blue Victorian she’s inherited, much to her surprise, from none other than her carousing ex-husband! Now it’s an authors’ getaway—but Cat won’t let anyone get away with murder…


The bed-and-breakfast is open for business, and bestselling author Tom Cook is among its first guests. Cat doesn’t know why he came all the way from New York, but she’s glad to have him among the quirkier—and far less famous—attendees.

Cat’s high school sweetheart Seth, who’s fixing up the weathered home, brings on mixed emotions for Cat…some of them a little overpowering. But it’s her uncle, the local police chief, whom she’ll call for help when there’s a surprise ending for Tom Cook in his cozy guest room. Will a killer have the last word on the new life Cat has barely begun?


About the Author



 Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today bestselling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader's Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She's also the author of the soon to be released, Cat Latimer series, with the first book, A STORY TO KILL, releasing in mass market paperback September 2016.She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com

Author Links
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5857424.Lynn_Cahoon
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LynnCahoon
Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/LynnCahoonAuthor
Website – http://lynncahoon.com/
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1


My Review

 A Story to Kill is the first book in the Cat Latimer Mystery series by author Lynn Cahoon. I have previously read Cahoon's Tourist Trap mysteries which I enjoyed very much.

Cat Latimer, a college English professor, has inherited a large home in Aspen Hills, Colorado. She has decided to turn the home into a retreat for writers. She is excited about hosting her first retreat with a mixed group of writers. One famous author has signed up for the retreat but is found dead in his room shortly after the retreat begins.

Cat is determined to discover who has murdered famous author, Tom Cook. Author Lynn Cahoon is terrific at creating a family of interesting supporting characters around her main character. Cat has her best friend Shauna working for her to run the retreats including handling the cooking. Cat's uncle is the sheriff of Aspen Hills. And old boyfriend Seth is the local hunky handyman who is helping restore Cat's house and hoping to become her new boyfriend.


There are plenty of twists and turns in A Story to Kill to keep the reader enthralled. I am looking forward to more books in The Cat Latimer Mystery series.