Snow Day!

It’s Snowmageddon here in New Jersey, which means we may be getting at least six inches of the fluffy white stuff tonight. Schools have already been cancelled for tomorrow, so we’re all going to sleep in. In fact, anyone getting up early will do so over my dead body.

I grew up in northern New York, where they laugh at schools that close for a mere six inches of snow. Where I live now, kids are not allowed to go outside for recess if it’s too cold. FYI, “too cold” is in the eye of the beholder, and people from New Jersey tend to believe that “too cold” is a temperature much higher than what upstate New Yorkers consider “too cold.” When I was little, we used to put on our snowpants and mittens and scarves to go outdoors at recess. Not so for my kids.

Winter used to be my favorite season. Just ask my husband–he reminds me (ad nauseam) that I used to say I loved cold and snow and winter. But times have changed and I don’t love it quite as much anymore. I still love watching the snow fall, and I even like to take my dog for a walk when it’s snowing. But I also like to be warm. When I go outside in the snow, I’m covered up so that only my eyes show. I used to hate wearing a coat outside in the wintertime. Funny, my kids are like that now. They flatly refuse to wear winter coats to school. They wear sweatshirts because all of them say that their lockers aren’t big enough to hold parkas. I let them get away with it because I was the same way.

So just what are we doing with our snow day? Well, the kids all have a little bit of homework, so they’ll do that. I’ll work on my book–it’s coming along well. It’s actually set in Hawaii, so even if it’s cold and windy and snowy in New Jersey, I get to spend some time on the Big Island, at least on paper. When we’ve all done our work, we’re going to make chocolate chip cookies. And there are a few games we got for Christmas that we haven’t played yet, so maybe we’ll take those out and give them a try.

I’d like to get some reading done, too. Right now I’m reading Anything But Civil by Anna Loan-Wilsey. It’s the second in her Hattie Davish mystery series, and I’m enjoying it very much so far. Look for a review of the book on my blog in the coming weeks.

What do you think of winter weather, or do you live in a place that is temperate all year? What do you do on snow days?

first snowfall 2015 (7) first snowfall 2015 (8)

Until next week,

 

Amy

A Review: The Impersonator

I am a member of Goodreads, a website I’ve mentioned on this blog before. As a quick review, there are lots of things I like about Goodreads: first, once a reader reviews a certain number of books, the site offers suggestions of books to read that are specific to the reader’s preferred genre(s). Second, the site allows readers to tag books that they want to read, books they’ve read, books they’ve reviewed, and many other categories. Third, readers can make friends on Goodreads that also post their reviews, suggestions, and reading progress. Fourth, a reader can join as many groups as she’d like. These groups have discussions that can be very interesting.

One of the groups I’m part of on Goodreads is called Gothicked. I’m also a member of the group called Ladies & Literature and one called Retro Reads. On the Gothicked feed one day, I came across a woman by the name of Mary Miley. She caught my attention because she asked me a question about one of my books. She indicated that she’s also an author of The Impersonator, a Roaring Twenties mystery. Not long after I heard from Ms. Miley, I went to Virginia to the Suffolk Mystery Writers Festival. While I was there my husband took our three kids to Colonial Williamsburg and explored the sights in the village. One of their stops was a bakery, where they bought me a treat – one of the best muffins I’ve ever tasted. It was a sweet potato muffin, and it’s not something I ever would have ordered. But it was delicious. At that bakery they also bought me a souvenir – a cookbook featuring recipes of some of the goodies at the bakery. Alas, the sweet potato muffin recipe wasn’t in the book, but something else was: the foreward, written years ago by none other than Mary Miley.

I emailed Ms. Miley and asked her if she was the same person who wrote the foreward to the cookbook and she answered that yes, she was the one who wrote it, long ago in a former life when she worked in Colonial Williamsburg.

It seemed like a sign: I was running into Mary Miley everywhere, so I needed to read her book.

I’m so glad I did.

The book follows the story of a young woman who is hired to play the role of Jessamyn Carr, the daughter and heiress of a couple who drowned at sea in the early 1900s. Jessamyn, or Jessie, herself disappeared in 1917 at the age of fourteen. Whether she ran away, fell to her death along the rugged Oregon coast where she lived, or was the victim of some other mishap, no one knows.

Well, almost no one.

Almost seven years after Jessie’s disappearance, her maternal uncle, Oliver Beckett, thinks he recognizes Jessie in a vaudeville performance. When he approaches the actress after the show, he finds out that the actress is not Jessie, but is, in fact, Leah Randall, who has been in vaudeville since early childhood. Oliver, a hard man with a love of money, asks Leah if she would be willing to take on a new role: that of his niece, Jessie. If Leah, a dead ringer for Jessie, can convince the trustees of the Carr estate and more importantly, the rest of the family, that she is really Jessie, then she and Oliver can live out their lives in leisure. There are only a couple problems: the charade has to go smoothly and quickly, before Jessie’s twenty-first birthday (at which time her cousin will inherit the fortune), and there’s a lot to learn. Oh, and there’s at least one person who really knows what happened to Jessie, so that person will know Leah’s an impersonator.

Leah initially refuses Oliver’s suggestion, but after she finds herself out of work and out of money, she agrees to take on the role. As the days and weeks go by, Leah finds that being part of a family, something she’s never experienced, has its highs and lows. She has made a promise to herself that she will find out what really happened to Jessie, and her investigations lead her into speakeasies, the seedier areas of 1920s-Portland, and some very dangerous circumstances.

I loved The Impersonator. Ms. Miley does a beautiful job exploring the worlds of vaudeville and Prohibition-era speakeasies. I love the descriptions of the Oregon coast and the house Leah moves into; it’s fun to read about the lives of the wealthy in the 1920s. Leah and the members of Jessie’s family are a group of well-developed characters; Leah is tough, but spunky and kind; her cousins, twin girls, are naive and fascinated by her; her male cousins are less so-they have a hard time believing that Leah is really Jessie and aren’t afraid to tell her so; Jessie’s aunt is cautious and can be overbearing; Jessie’s grandmother can be distant, but is shrewd and has a soft spot for Jessie.

The book is fast-paced and never feels like a history lecture. It had me guessing up to the very end, and what a satisfying ending it was! I found myself suspicious of almost everyone at one time or another, and it was great to be kept on my toes throughout the novel.

The Impersonator was the bee’s knees!

Until next week,

Amy

New Year’s Resolutions 2.0

Happy 2015!

Last year at about this time, I shared with you the things I wanted to accomplish in 2014. I was successful with some, not so much with others. This year I’ve decided to give resolutions a different name: a wish list. The word “resolutions” has a do-or-die sound to it, and I don’t want to feel bad at the end of the year when, inevitably, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to do.

For example, you may remember (I know certain people do and they keep mentioning it to me) that I wanted to clean the garage. Didn’t happen.

I also wanted to clean the attic. Also didn’t happen. I  tried, believe me. But it wasn’t to be (nor was the replacement of my kids’ closet doors).

But I did write more and I hope I improved, I took more pictures, I became more active on social media, and I ran a 5K.

So I know you’re dying to find out what I have planned for this year. Not surprisingly, I’d like to clean the attic and the garage. I’m not going to call these resolutions, but I will simply refer to them as two items on my 2015 wish list. By the way, these will probably be on my wish list every year until I die. Replacing my kids’ closet doors should also go on the list.

Here are some other things I’ve added to my wish list:

1. start another new novel (more on this later in the year) (this is actually more of a resolution than a wish);

2. start writing a series (again, more on this later in the year–hopefully) (ditto about being a resolution);

3. replace the garage doors, one of which is held in place with a broom handle;

4. landscape my yard with something other than dead plants;

5. run another 5K; and

6. help my daughter sew the tote bag I’ve been promising to help her with for two years.

Wait! I’ve already done #6! Cross that right off my wish list!

Want to see pictures? I knew you would (some of you may already have seen these on Facebook).

tote bag 1tote bag 2

As I think of other things I want to add to my list, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, what’s on your wish list for this year? I’d love to know!

Until next week,

Amy