Monday, September 8, 2014

Designated Daughters: The Long Way Home and Remembering Tina

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two amazing series that are among my favorites. While the style is different, both authors offer readers/listeners an incredible journey through their books. Hope you enjoy. I'm also remembering a wonderful blogging friend, who recently passed away.


Designated Daughters coverStories by author Margaret Maron bring to mind visions of family reunions, summer get-togethers and the feeling of being surrounded by love.

Maron writes of family, loyalty and a look back at Southern life once upon a time, even as she incorporates a couple of murder mysteries into the mix. Her latest release, DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS, is a wonderful example of her blending talents.

Maron also serves as the narrator for this installment in the Deborah Knott series. It’s enlightening to listen to the author read her own work. She brings out the emotions of the characters.

When Judge Deborah Knott and her family are called to her elderly Aunt Rachel’s bedside, they are greeted with good news. Aunt Rachel is awake and talking, though it seems to people only she can see. However, tragedy strikes within hours when Aunt Rachel is found murdered in her Hospice bed.

Deborah’s husband, Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant, is determined to find out what happened. He believes it had something to do with the rambling stories Aunt Rachel was telling prior to her death. There’s a long list of suspects including the Designed Daughters, a support group of caregivers that Rachel’s own daughter is a member of.

In the search for the killer, Maron takes readers/listeners on a journey back and forth in time. She weaves a tale of life in the old South without sugar-coating it. She also blends in current social problems plaguing the elderly and those caring for them.

DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS is a jumble of events taking place like with any family, but the story flows smoothly with twists, turns and red herrings to keep you guessing. The characters are warm and likable, country folk with good hearts and a love of family for the most part.

In this 19th installment in the Deborah Knott series, readers/listeners get a glimpse into the past of the extensive Knott family and life in Colleton County in days gone by. New readers to the series can easily keep up.

Blending Southern charm with a search for justice, Maron has once again crafted a captivating murder mystery.

Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron, Deborah Knott Series Book #19, Performed by Margaret Maron, Hachette Audio, @2014, ASIN: BOOLWA3YG4, Unabridged, Digital Download, Listening Time: 7 Hours and 49 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

THE LONG WAY HOME by Louise Penny

The Long Way Home coverThere’s something magical, almost ethereal about a Chief Inspector Gamache novel by author Louise Penny, which may seem a bit odd since there’s always murder involved.

Narrator Ralph Cosham does a superb job bringing the characters to life, giving each their own distinct voice. His rich, soothing voice varies in pace and inflection to match the characters’ emotions and their situation. Cosham’s voice is slightly hypnotic as he shares the story with listeners. His accents and mannerisms enhance the already rhythmic flow of the story.

With Armand Gamache’s retirement as Chief Inspector of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, readers/listeners can expect a different edge to the usual adrenaline-fueled pace of previous stories. With retirement, Penny gives readers a different, more philosophical look at the makeup of Gamache and the residence of Three Pines.

Settling into life in Three Pines, Gamache is enjoying the peace and quiet with his wife, Reine-Marie. He and his former second-in-command (and now his son-in-law), Jean-Guy Beauvoir, are both recovering from emotional and physical scares. But Gamache knows their neighbor, Clara Morrow, is troubled and needs help.

Clara finally asks Gamache to help her find her husband, Peter. The couple had agreed to a year separation planning to meet on the anniversary of that decision to determine the outcome of their marriage. Peter didn’t return on the date and Clara hasn’t heard from him. Peter, struggling with jealously over Clara’s sudden fame in the art world, seems to have just disappeared.

Agreeing to help, Gamache, Jean-Guy, Clara and their friend Myrna set off to find Peter. Their search takes them across the Canadian wilderness retracing Peter’s journey to possible discover the Tenth Muse in hopes of reawakening his own painting career. Their pilgrimage leads them to discoveries that impact their lives forever.

There is no fast-action adrenaline rush to make you catch your breath, just the ability to see a beautiful landscape through the eyes of one who has learned to appreciate life and see some good in all. The story is thought-provoking blended with historical morsels and artistic influence.

The poetic flow of THE LONG WAY HOME is captivating as readers/listeners once again visit with old friends in Three Pines.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #10, Performed by Ralph Cosham, Macmillan Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1427244291, Unabridged, 10 Discs, Listening Time: 12 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


Today numerous people throughout blogdom are remembering a kind soul that was recently taken from us – Tina Downey, who blogged at Life is Good.

Tina had been struggling with pulmonary hypertension, hypoglycemia and severe asthma when she passed away on Aug. 23 (2014).

I didn’t know Tina for that long, but in the time I knew her I was amazed at her energy and zest for life. Her posts and comments were always so positive and happy. I don’t think I ever read anything that Tina wrote when I didn’t smile.

She loved sunflowers, so today we are celebrating Tina’s life and the impact she had on ours by displaying sunflowers. This is a close up of a sunflower from a field of sunflowers a friend of mine planted this year. Thinking of you Tina and missing you.  
Thanks for visiting today. If you knew Tina, share a thought with us. In addition, I hope I’ve enticed you to check out these wonderful books. They are both part of fascinating series. Have you ever read or listened to a book that was hard to describe to others, not because it was bad but because it was so good? 

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Hi Mason .. Designated Daughters sounds full of interesting story lines, twists and plots .. should be a good read, while A Long Way Home will share with us some Canadian landscapes and Quebecoise insights .. also looks interesting.

    Tina - love your sunflower .. and she certainly touched many of our hearts ... we will definitely remember her - that zest for life is catching .. cheers Hilary

  2. Lovely sunflower for Tina, and looks like the bees are happy too.

    Thanks for sharing Designated Daughters and A long Way Home, both look exciting.

  3. Tina would love that massive sunflower.
    She represented joy in all things, no matter what she was going through at the time. Tina was a true blessing. I have no doubt that when she reached the gates she heard the words 'Well done my good and faithful servant.' I will miss her spirit so much.

  4. Look at all the bees. They will spread those sunflowers far and wide. Tina knew how to make people smile.

  5. Mason - What a lovely tribute to Tina. All thoughts and wishes for good to her friends and family... And thanks for mentioning the Louise Penny series - one of the series I like best - and the Margaret Maron series. Folks, I recommend both.

  6. so nice seeing sunflowers all around the blogosphere. Tina is probably smiling up in the heavens

  7. THANK YOU... Tina would have loved this attention, it's great to see she is going to be missed.


  8. Very nice. The bees love that sunflower too.

  9. I didn't know Tina for long either, but just knowing her for a short time made a real impact. She was a wonderful woman and will be greatly missed. Life is Good, Tina.

  10. Looks like the bees are really buzzing on your flower. Good pic. Nice tribute. :)

  11. Great tribute! I'm glad she's being remembered.

  12. The bees buzzing about ... a reminder of the buzz Tina has generated throughout our community...
    Life is good!

  13. Great reviews!

    I always smiled, too, when I visited Tina's blog. She was a true believer that Life is Good. After all, God gave us sunflowers!

  14. I wish I'd 'met' Tina online - she sounds like an amazing woman.
    The books sound great!

  15. I loved seeing the bees in your sunflower! It's a beautiful sight.

    I really like reading about Designated Daughters. Thanks for posting that today.

  16. Really nice post and words for Tina.
    Thank you,

  17. great Tina tribute :) glad to have met you through her

  18. From one fellow book lover to another; great combination of Tina and books!

  19. Yay for happy bees, too! A whole field of sunflowers planted, delightful!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.