Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Girl in the Empty Dress by Lise McClendon - #review

Merle Bennett is turning fifty, and her four sisters are helping her celebrate by going to France on a walking tour of the Dordogne. But one sister invites along a law colleague whose annoying ways upset what Merle had hoped would be just 'wine, women, and walking.' When Gillian Sargent, the sixth wheel, finds an injured dog beside the road the idyllic summer vacation takes a dark and dangerous turn. Why is the dog special? Who is after her? And what will they do to get the dog back?

Truffles, wine, romance, and intrigue in the heart of France.

All five Bennett sisters are lawyers. One is writing a blog about their trip, baring family details. As the intrigue heats up, one of Merle's boyfriends shows up from New York while her French boyfriend arrives unexpectedly. The delicate karma of sisterhood is rife with bickering, tears, and French law as the questions about Gillian Sargent pile up. Who exactly is she? What is she hiding? And where the hell has she gone with the dog?

Do you love women's suspense? Are you a not-so-secret lover of all things French? Come along on a trip to France with the Bennett sisters.



This is my first experience with a Lise McClendon book.  It will not be my last.  'Empty Dress' is the 2nd of seven "Bennett Sisters Mysteries".

I do not have any sisters, so missed out on that best friend girl talk, as well as the aggravation that goes along with having female siblings.  One of the sisters brings along a co-worker (Gillian) who seems to have little to no social life.  Understandably the other sisters are a little put out that a 'non-sister' has joined what is supposed to be their time to reconnect.  And Gillian?  She does nothing to change their opinion.  She is cold, standoffish and disapproves of most people and things, other than herself.

Merle has her vacation 'ami' (boyfriend) in this little village in France, at least when he's in town and not working.  But that's ok (?) because her on-again, off-again from New York shows up out of the blue.  (That bit of tension is delicious, btw.) And she's kept plenty busy after Mr. NY is arrested for assault on a local priest.  The only lawyer in town is the former mayor, whom Merle got dismissed in disgrace after a previous investigation.  So yeah, he's a lawyer, but does he have his client's best interests at heart?

And then there's the dog.  The sisters + 1 find an injured dog by the side of the road during a walk in the country.  Unbeknownst to them, it was stolen by force from an elderly couple.  It turns out the dog is a truffle snuffler and is quite valuable. 

I don't know what the French expression is for "15-bean soup", but there are a lot of threads and sub-plots running through the story.  But, like the soup, the story works, and quite well.  And I did love 'revisiting' France, the setting and general tone of the story seemed quite authentic.  (No, I haven't had the pleasure of actually visiting there myself, but I did take 7 years of French in school.)

I was a bit confused at the choice of title.  A little bit of an oblique reference, IMO, but hey, I read-vesting in the story, not just the title.

There are six more books in the Bennett Sister Mysteries, and I am looking forward delving into, well, all of them, eventually.  'Empty Dress' is an engaging read, almost like being on vacation oneself, especially if you're in the habit of having bad guys stalk you and try end your holiday suddenly, with extreme prejudice.  Nice bit of tension in the thriller aspects of the book.

These are definitely worth your investments of time and money.



Lise McClendon is a fiction writer living in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old. 

(Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for free from Amazon, having been notified by one of the following:  BookBub, Robin's Reads, Freebooksy, eBooksoda, or other similar deal-finding services.  I was under no obligation to review, but that's kind of what I do, so here we are. :D)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Plot Your Health, a Journey to Wellness Planner by C.J. Ellisson - #review

Book Description:

Are you struggling to stay on top of multiple medications and supplements throughout your day? Or maybe your doctor has asked for daily details on your symptoms? Do you miss treatment appointments, or have problems juggling all the details? If you need space to log your steps, moods, hours of sleep, blood sugar levels, or even foods — we've got you covered!

Introducing a one-year wellness planner for managing severe and chronic health concerns! Terrific for parents managing a child’s complex care, teenagers or adults who need to organize their health concerns, or for caregivers and adults managing the care of senior patients.
220 pages in length, with a repeat of multiple tracking pages for twelve months.

Notebook Contents:

-        Owner’s Info page with room for doctor info, personal data, emergency contacts, allergies and more!
-        Two pages for Condition Details, room to list six per page.
-        Four pages of Medicine and Supplement Records, six per page.
-        Four pages for tracking test results, scans, and blood work throughout the year.

Twelve monthly sections, each with the following:
  • Undated monthly calendar pages, for jotting down doctor appointments, wellness visits, physical therapy, IV infusions, or whatever you need.
  • Two Doctor/ Wellness visit pages, for questions to ask at each appointment, room for notes, and an area to jot down tests needed.
  • Treatment Record pages, with room to track nine treatments per month, plus an extra lined page for notes or more appointments.
  • A two-page Symptom trackers, each with room to track twenty symptoms for an entire month.
  • Three-pages per month of Medicine and Supplement tracking grids. Each contains room to track four meds that need to be taken three times a day, and room to track twenty-one meds required twice a day. (This area can be customized for more meds if they are taken only once per day).
  • Mood-tracking coloring image. Assign a color to a mood and color each section per day according to how you feel.
  • Additional two-page grid for tracking sleep, food, blood pressure, habits, blood sugar, oxygen levels... pretty much anything you need! Eighteen spaces to track for each month.
  • Two lined pages per month for additional needs.
  • Future planning area on the last page for appointments and scheduling for the next year.



(Apparently I am not the only one in my family with health problems.  A couple of days ago, my power supply blew up.  The new one came today (my birthday, btw), which lead us to find out that it took out the motherboard as well.  Oy!  Luckily my daughter recently got a new laptop and I am working for the time being off her old one.)

Why do I tell you all of the above?  Because, while this is not the review I had planned to write, I just HAD to tell you all about C.J. Ellisson's new workbook: "Plot Your Health: a Journey to Wellness Planner".  Anybody who personally deals with multiple and/or chronic health conditions, as well as anyone with friends, family or acquaintainces experiencing the same.

For myself, I have experienced depression for years and years.  For the time being, that is likely to continue.  In each of my 3 pregnancies I experienced gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension.  The high blood pressure has continued since that time.  The diabetes seems to be reminding me these days that it is still there.  Most recently, I have begun to forget the name for common objects while I am talking, although I can usually explain what it looks like or does, so the meaning gets across; and over the last 6 months or so, I have developed arm tremors which have increased in frequency and intensity.

So you can see how the Plot Your Health Planner is something about which I could say, "Where have you been all my life?"  Even with the forgetfulness, I have been able to keep better track of appointments with various doctors, and whether or not I have taken my medications at the right times, etc.  I have been able to feel a measure of control over my health conditions, and that gives me hope ... which is a powerful medicine in itself.

I consider the Plot Your Health: a Journey to Wellness Planner an indispensible addition to any family's medical records.


C.J. Ellisson is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, who writes adult urban fantasy, mystery, and romance. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two teenagers, three dogs, and two cats--reporting to love the energetic zoo that's become their home. 

When forced to give up a career due to her decreasing health, C.J. turned to writing in 2009 and claims the escape helped save her sanity. She battled severe chronic illness for years and has finally reached the end of her long-term treatment.

Instead of dozens of pills, IVs, exhaustion, and pain, C.J.'s days are now filled with writing, exercising, eating healthy, and running a novel-writing club at her daughter's school. It all leads to a fun-filled, busy day, and she's incredibly grateful to be so involved in life again.


Click on the banner above to go to the tour site, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.

(Disclosure:  I received a  3-month trial planner from the author, via Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

Note:  As you can see from the tour banner, this tour actually concluded yesterday.  This post was supposed to be up Monday, but my own computer had other plans.  I regret this delay and any problems it has caused for the author or tour planner, although  the tone of my review was not affected.