PAPERBACK RELEASED! DOUBLE DOG DARE – GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work. There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Double Dog Dare

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching. 

Want a sip from my Double Whammy cup?

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog.

I gave all three of my dogs two extra biscuits.

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


MY EVEREST: THIRTY YEARS OF SAN DIEGO HIKING (WITH DOGS!) – MARTHA KENNEDY

My Everest: Thirty Years of San Diego
Hiking (With Dogs!)

Kindle and Paperback
August 29, 2017
Author: Martha Kennedy

I don’t like reviewing books written by friends.

What if I don’t like it? Will they hate me if I can’t give them a great review? Authors take book reviews personally. We aren’t supposed to, but our books are personal. I can’t think of anything in my world more personal to me than the (one) book I wrote. Apparently, no matter how many books you write, you will continue to feel that way about all of them. They are your babies, your little love children.

My everest martha kennedyI wasn’t too worried about this one, though. I’ve read other books by Martha and I liked them. I’ve always liked Martha’s writing (if you don’t read her blog, you should), especially when she is writing about her dogs. When this when came out, I dashed over to Amazon and immediately bought a copy. Then I got bogged down with other stuff and didn’t start to read it until a few days ago.

This is a wonderful book. It’s so very good, I hardly know where to begin raving about it.

back cover my everest martha kennedyThis isn’t just a book. It isn’t about hiking (despite its title) in the San Diego hills with your dogs. This is a book about finding what is real and what matters. It’s about discovering the world is God and you are part of it. It’s about recognizing all living things having an equal right to be on this planet. It’s about learning how tiny we are while expanding to be part of the hugeness of life.

“My Everest” is a beautiful book. It is profound and thoughtful. I found myself putting it down to leave myself time to think about it and what it meant to me. I don’t do that. Really. I don’t. I just read. This was different.

Truffle and Molly in the Medicine Wheel

“My Everest” is not one of those silly books about searching for yourself, either. Martha has found what I also found — that we are where we should be and we are in the right place. Our job is to enjoy it. Fully. See it, feel it, absorb it, love it. Be part of the all-in-all. Fly with the buzzards and the hawks. Get warmth from the earth with the rattlesnakes. Watch eternity roll by with the rocks.

This is not self-revelatory narcissism. It reaches out and says “I love you” to everyone and everything. It’s not offering you rules to follow so you can walk the same path. There is no path. “My Everest” is about joy and sanctuary , the world that Martha Kennedy and her many dogs found in the Chaparral in San Diego.

Taking the world hiking.

Those hills and mountains were her place. The suggestion is implicit that any place can be your place. You don’t have to go to those specific hills or mountains. The important thing is that there is a place — your place — that brings you that full measure of contentment.

I don’t think I can explain it any better except to say I loved the dogs and the mountains. I love the people she met on the way. The young people she brought with her to hike the hills. In good weather and bad.

I loved how she loved her dogs, yet understood that when they passed, that was how it had to be. Because we live, we pass — humans , dogs and all that lives.

The Models – Two magnificent huskies

This is not the kind of book I would have normally sought to read, but I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to read it. In many way, for me, “My Everest” is a prayer and a hope for a world gone wrong. I don’t find a lot of hope — or any kind of prayers — in 2018’s world.

I most fervently recommend you read this book.


It’s available on Kindle for the extravagant price of $3.00 and in paperback for the break-the-bank price of $7.00. I have it on Kindle and when my next Social Security check arrives, I will get the paperback, too.


I want to be sure it is in the bookcase with other books I love too much to leave in the cloud.

SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING WONDERFUL AND THE WORLD GETS BETTER

FROM GRETCHEN ARCHER TO ME ON FACEBOOK


We all complain about Facebook, don’t we? And then, one day, someone says something so incredibly wonderful I feel like hugging it (hard to hug social media, but I can try) and definitely Gretchen. I review her books … but she reviewed me. Literally, bringing tears to my eyes.

From the day I read her first book (Double Whammy), I knew Gretchen Archer had “it,” that ineffable “something” that makes a writer an author. Her first book wasn’t perfect, but it had the heart of the winner and the soul of the future. She created characters that have grown and changed and become increasingly real. There are very few authors who get characters well enough to allow them to change in a normal way, with flaws and all and moreover, to put them through all those experiences that make us human. Her characters are never repetitive, never dull. They aren’t always doing the same thing, book after book.

What a pleasure to follow an author and watch her mature. I love you too, Gretchen!

Double Dog Dare will be available on March 20, 2018! 


Good morning, Players!

Gretchen Archer

If you have a minute, please read the review of Double Dog Dare Marilyn Armstrong posted here (look down) yesterday.

I *met* Marilyn and her husband Garry after Double Whammy released. Literary reviews (reviews written by people in the industry who know what they’re talking about) of your first book are terrifying/exhilarating/soul-crushing, and for me, in the mix of reviews, one stood out–Marilyn’s. They tell us, they warn us, they mean business: don’t contact reviewers. I did. Just the one. I had to. I had to thank her, because of all the reviews, Marilyn got me.

It’s not that she gave Whammy five fat stars and loved it to the point of me printing and framing the review, it was that she liked it (which, with Book One, is quite enough), allowing me a big sigh of relief. But more than liked it, Marilyn saw its possibilities–my potential. She was the one savvy reviewer who picked out the elements of Whammy that gave it the promise to go on and be a successful series. She was the one reviewer who took the time to (inadvertently, sneakily and stealthily, within the review) give me advice. Very good advice.

Marilyn Armstrong reads between the lines.

She gave me the courage to keep writing. Her honest review was perfectly in line with how I truly felt about my own book.

I’ve loved her every minute since.

Thank you so much, Marilyn. For your deep understanding of publishing, characters, plot, prose, and me. xo

DOUBLE DOG DARE – DAVIS WAY MYSTERY #7 – BY GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work.

There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

Of the many things no casino is supposed to present to the public, a dog show is probably high on the list. Especially this dog show where the pooches are not being judged for their breed characteristics or even their abilities in obedience or agility. They are being judged for their unique abilities … to do … well … dance. Sing. Human things dogs are not supposed to do. It’s a wild and crazy competition and Davis’ boss is supposed to judge it. You know what that means. That’s right. Davis is the stand in … and Davis’ sisters’ best friend has an entry for the show. Or is supposed to but …

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching.

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog. I gave all three of mine two extra biscuits. They didn’t say thank you. Spoiled maybe?

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


 DOUBLE DOG DARE will be available on March 20th! Put your pre-order in now!

POSTWAR: A HISTORY OF EUROPE SINCE 1945 – TONY JUDT

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
by Tony Judt


Available in paperback, hardcover and as an audiobook


Reading PostWar was a project, an immersion experience during which I first unlearned, then relearned everything I knew of modern European history. It was worth the effort. This is a long book — 960 pages — crammed with so much information I had to read it twice before I felt I had a grip on the material.

Tony Judt was an historian with controversial opinions. He made no pretence of being a neutral observer. Not that any historian is really neutral. Every historian has an agenda. Whether or not he or she puts it out there for all to see is a matter of style, but there is no such thing as historical neutrality. If an historian is writing about an era, he or she has an opinion about it. All history is slanted, changed by the historians who write it.

Mussolini (left) and Hitler sent their armies ...

Dr. Tony Judt believed the role of an historian is to set the record straight. He undertakes the debunking and de-mythologizing of post World War II European history. He lays bare lies that comprise the myth of French resistance, the “neutral” Swiss, the open-minded anti-Nazi Dutch — exposing an ugly legacy of entrenched anti-Semitism, xenophobia and ethnocentricity.

Although Judt follows a more or less chronological path from World War II to the present, he doesn’t do it as a strict “timeline.” Instead of a linear progression, he follows threads of ideas and philosophy. Tracing cultural and social development, he takes you from news events through their political ramifications. You follow parallel developments in cinema, literature, theater, television and arts, not just the typical political and economic occurrences on which most history focuses.

After two consecutive readings, I finally felt I’d gotten it. Postwar changed my view of  the world, not just what happened, but what is happening.

Tony Judt and I were born in 1947. We grew up during same years, but his Old World roots gave him an entirely different perspective. He forced me to question fundamental beliefs. What really happened? Was any of the stuff I believed true? Maybe not or at least, maybe only partially. It was hard to swallow, but he convinced me. I believe it.

If you are Jewish (I am and so was Judt), and lost family during the Holocaust, this will stir up painful issues. The depth and breadth of European anti-Semitism and collusion in the destruction of European Jewry is stomach churning. Pretty lies are easier to deal with than ugly reality. It’s easy to understand why so much of what we know is wrong.

Map of Nazi conquest of Europe as of 1940

Even though I knew history, I didn’t grasp the impact of these years until Postwar made it real. I assumed, having lived these decades and followed the news, I knew what happened.

I was wrong. What is reported by American media barely scratches the surface. The transformation of Europe from the wreckage of war to a modern European union is more extensive, complex and far-reaching than I had grasped. These changes affect all of us directly and personally. My understanding of current events is far better because of this book.

I read Postwar on paper, then listened to the audio version. Available from Audible.com, I recommend it to anyone with easily tired eyes. It has excellent narration and is a fine showcase for the author’s conversational writing style.

Postwar is analysis and criticism, not just “what happened.” The book is an eye-opener, totally worth your time and effort, an investment in understanding and historical perspective. It’s never dull. After reading it, you will never see Europe or World War II the same way.

SHARING MY WORLD – MID JANUARY 2018

Share Your World – January 15, 2018


Whoa! Mid January? 2018? Today is Martin Luther King Day, too … I remember when they decided to make it a holiday and eventually, it really did become a holiday. That was back when this country was actually committed to Civil Rights. Was it a million years ago?

Complete this sentence: I’m looking forward to….

No snow, please. Just … stop snowing. Warm up a little, world.

Also, really looking forward to the day we clear out the White House and install a real President and a functional administration. That will be a day for cheering.

What is your favorite comfort snack food?

That depends. Crystallized ginger is always one. Cookies. Chips and salsa. Toast with jam. And an occasional piece of chocolate.

I don’t snack much and I don’t keep much snack food in the house.

What was one of your first moneymaking jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)?

I worked at Bloomingdale’s putting price tickets on clothing. In the basement. I also counted incoming goods and marked the bills of lading. I was 14, which was the youngest you could be and still work in New York.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Trying to get through “Fire and Fury” and remarkably, I’m actually beginning to feel sorry for a lot of the people who have done the best they knew how to try and make it a functional place to work and a more “normal” administration. Everyone failed.

Bannon may be gone, but he left his hatred behind.

Everyone failed because the man they elected as President is not up to the task. Forget for the moment whether he’s nuts or demented or stupid or whatever else you call him. He is a man who never reads a book.  No education. No deep knowledge of any relevant subject. Can’t — won’t — read reports from the other people who supposedly work for him. He has zero knowledge of the critical material with the White House is supposed to deal. And, to top it off, he has no idea how to manage people. He works entirely on instinct and his instinct is based on the last person he talked to.

In short, you can’t “turn him” into a “real” president. He doesn’t have the qualifications and nothing will make it happen.

I was surprised by the book. There’s a lot more empathy and sympathy in it than I expected and I found myself feeling bad for people and how painful this experience has been for them. We elected a man as president who should never have been allowed into the office and we are paying a terrible price for such a shallow, stupid decision.

DIDN’T WE ALREADY KNOW THIS? –  BY TOM CURLEY

Well, the new year is less than a week old and it seems like 2018 is turning into 2017 on steroids. There’s so much going on this week it seemed to be a “target rich” environment for a blog. The “You can’t make this shit up” and “If you wrote this, nobody would believe it” clichés got together and gave birth to a book called  “Fire And Fury” by a reporter named Michael Wolff. 

It’s an inside look at this train wreck called “a Presidency.” It confirms what has been common knowledge for a while already. SCROTUS is nuts. Senile, and dumb as a brick, too.  And much, much more.  The book is riveting. I downloaded the audio book. Ellin and I sat at the kitchen table and listened for over 3 hours before we realized two things.

One: This is totally engrossing. We can’t stop listening.
Two: Damn, my butt is sore. Don’t sit at a kitchen table for more than three hours.

The thread of the book is how unbelievable this administration is and how unbelievably incompetent this administration is. 

But I think the lead — which has been buried — is how this guy was able to write this book. I’m not making this up. How did he do it? He spent the last year hanging out in the White House. In the West Wing.  He talked to everybody, including the President.

He could go in anytime he wanted. They all talked to him. They all knew he was writing a book!

How did he pull this off?

He met with Trump and asked if he could be a “fly on the wall” and document his administration. Trump said “Sure, why not?” Now he denies it but somehow, he got access to the White House, even though nobody is sure who actually allowed it.

The utter chaos that the book describes is how he got in.

Just sitting here, watching all this shit happen.

So, think of it. A reporter is going to the White House for a year, wandering around and everybody tells him everything. And nobody notices he’s —

  1. A REPORTER!
  2. HE’S THERE!

And they all seemed to be completely  stunned and surprise that this guy

WROTE A BOOK!!!

The other thing about this book is that all the bombshells in the book are not bombshells. It’s all common knowledge. Hell, I’ve written a blog about most of them.

The book points out that they never expected to win. The book equates the campaign to the Mel Brooks movie “The Producers.

I wrote CAN MEL BROOKS SUE REALITY FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT? The President is stupid.

I wrote STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES. The White House staff treats SCROTUS like a child.

I wrote WE NEED A FIRST MOM.  They have to come up with ways to stop him from doing stupid stuff, or worse.

I wrote M.A.D. MADMEN AND THE FIVE MINUTE RULE.  The president is nuts.

I wrote NORMAL, NORMALIZING AND NORMALIZING NUTS. The president is getting nuttier.

I wrote NUTS, NUTJOBS AND NUTTERBUTTER. I could go on, but I’m getting tired of the cutting and pasting. And of course Marilyn, Ellin, and Garry have written even more on all of this. Basically, all the stuff we’ve known and been watching unravel during the last year is now in a book because a guy got to sit on a sofa in the West Wing for about a year — and just watched it all happen.

You just can’t make this shit up.  We all know one thing: It’s going to get even weirder.