Thursday, December 24, 2015

All the Rage - Review

Review by Darcie Czajkowski
Romy Grey was raped. A tragic, scaring event that was made worse because of who the perpetrator was.

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner.

No one believes Romy. That’s her father’s fault. A drunk who mouthed off to the sheriff’s wife.

Romy has no credibility. Why would anyone believe the girl from the wrong side of the tracks?

One year later, Romy is still the outcast. Shamed by all. Friend to none. Except for Leon, the boy who works with her at the diner. But under the weight of shame and embarrassment, Romy has trouble letting him in. It’s hard for her to believe he wants her, despite the fact that when she says, “stop,” he does. Does he see the real her, though? Would he still care if he knew what happened to her?

Further complications arise when Romy’s former friend, Penny Young, disappears after a party, and Romy was there but can’t remember a thing. She’s questioned countless times about the night but has no answers. Is Kellan Turner responsible? Did he rape and kill her? And if he did, will anyone believe it?

Brilliantly written, Courtney Summers tackles an incredibly difficult topic. As a victim of sexual abuse as a child and rape as an adult, this book hit close to home. It was tough to read, largely because Summers nails it with her descriptions of how girls feel when they are violated. Girls and women are afraid to come forward, as they fear that they, like Romy, won’t be believed. They fear that nothing can be done. They fear that they will be blamed, or that they will be told that that they brought it on themselves. Society still has a long way to go in protecting girls and women from these types of offenses. But when authors like Summers are brave enough to raise the issue, let the world know and talk about the injustices that surround it, she is standing up for everyone who has been in Romy Grey’s shoes. Myself included.

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About the Author:
Courtney Summers was born in Belleville, Ontario in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. At age 14, she dropped out of high school to pursue her education independently and spent those years figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. At 18, she knew she was meant to write.

To date, she has authored five novels. Her first novel, Cracked Up to Be, was published when she was 22 and went on to win the 2009 CYBIL award in YA fiction. Since then, she’s published four more books–2011 YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick and White Pine Honour book, Some Girls Are, 2012 YALSA Quick Pick, Fall for Anything, and 2013 YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick and White Pine Honour book This is Not a Test and All the Rage as well as an e-novella, Please Remain Calm (a sequel to This is Not a Test).

When she is not writing, Courtney loves playing video games, watching horror movies and obsessing over the zombie apocalypse. Her favorite color is green and she’s a total feminist.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1000 Blog Members Giveaway

1000 Blog Members Giveaway!

We’re getting closer to 1000 blog members, but still have a little way to go.  Once we get to 1000 we’ll be having a HUGE giveaway that will be open internationally!  Included will be:

Grand Prize:  Kindle Paperwhite or a $120 Amazon gift card

2nd Prize:  Kindle or an $80 Amazon gift card

3rd Prize:  $25 Amazon gift card

 I will also be making all giveaways international once we hit 1000 members!!!

There will be no Rafflecopter with this giveaway.  I will use a random draw with all of the blog members to choose the winners.  If you’re not a Book Mama Blog Book Buddy, what are you waiting for?  All you have to do is go to the right-hand side of the blog page and under BOOK BUDDIES click on the blue tab that says “Join This Site.”  Feel free to share this post.  The sooner we get to 1000 members, the sooner we get to give away these amazing prizes!

Thank you to all for supporting this blog and allowing my passion for books to be shared with the world. 

Marlene xoxo

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dashing Through the Snow - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel
Ashley’s Christmas wish is pretty simple, she just wants to spend Christmas with her mother in Seattle.  But things aren’t looking too good.  At the airport ticket counter, she’s informed that there are no more flights available and the man standing behind her isn’t making things any better. 

Dashiell is a former Army officer also needing a flight to Seattle.  After both are denied tickets, they meet up again at the car rental office where, as luck has it, there is only one car available.  Reluctant to give up hope to spend the holidays with her mom, Ashley agrees to share the car ride with him.

There’s no doubt that Dash is handsome, but he seems to be the complete opposite of Ashley.  Where she is outgoing and friendly, he is serious and tends to lack people skills.  But the more time they spend, the more he finds Ashley chipping away at his well-constructed wall.  There’s just something about her that intrigues him.  But, as they embark on their road trip, they have no idea of the adventure that awaits them. 

When it comes to fun Christmas books, Debbie Macomber never disappoints.  So, grab a mug of hot cocoa and a cozy blanket and curl up with this fun, feel-good story with a cast of characters you won’t soon forget.

Purchase the book at:
Amazon * Barnes&Noble

About the Author:
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 750 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Eight of these novels hit the number one spot.

Macomber owns two businesses in Port Orchard, WA, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series. These include the Victorian Rose Tea Room, featured in the Cedar Cove series, and A Good Yarn Shop, introduced in her popular Blossom Street novels. They are located on the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

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Ballantine Books is giving one lucky reader a print copy of
Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
US only

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Monday, December 21, 2015

The Admissions - Review & Giveaway

Review by Darcie Czajkowski
Is there such a thing as having it all? It seems like there is for the Hawthorne family. The leader of the clan, Gabe Hawthorne, is a partner at a management consulting firm. His wife, Nora, is a prominent real estate agent in a well-to-do region of San Francisco. Their children are thriving as well: the eldest, Angela, has a stellar GPA and an accomplished list of extra-curricular activities; the middle child, Cecily, is the star of her Irish dance class; and the youngest, Maya, is a happy, well-adjusted seven-year-old.

But beneath the patina of idealistic suburban life are secrets, lies, and a family struggling to keep up with fast-paced, do-more mentality of modern society. Will the Hawthorne family fall apart at its seams, or will they all bind together when dreams are crushed, long-buried secrets come to light, and acts of desperation threaten careers?
Meg Mitchell Moore in The Admissions offers up several questions for reflection: Is more always better? Is the rat race worth it? Is there only one route to success? Is it acceptable to live by our own definition of success or should we abide by society’s rubric?

The Admissions tackles age-old issues with a fresh, contemporary perspective.  It’s humorous, lively, and on-point in sharing sentiments that we all face in modern America. To be better. To amass more money. To attend the best colleges. To raise the brightest, happiest, most well-rounded children. To be the most successful at our jobs. These things, in and of themselves, are not unworthy goals, but when our lives become consumed by comparative living and working ourselves to the bone, the payout becomes less sweet. We lose sight of the things that matters most, the aspects of life that we hold closest to our hearts. In the end, it’s not the material things that matter, or the diplomas we’ve mounted on the walls that keep us warm at night. When we are gray-haired and wizened, it’s those who are sitting next to us, those who have enriched our lives along the way, and the experiences we’ve shared with family and friends. Those are the memories that will confirm that we’ve lived a life that will leave behind a legacy that we can be proud of.

Mitchell’s novel is a highly enjoyable read, one that will stick with you long after you’ve read its final page.

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About the Author:
Meg Mitchell Moore began writing as soon as she figured out how the cursive 'T' and 'F' were different and hasn’t stopped since. Her debut novel, The Arrivals, was published in 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books, then an imprint of Little, Brown. Her second novel, So Far Away, was published in 2012 and was named one of the year’s best adult novels for young adults by Booklist.  Her third novel, The Admissions, is due out in August 2015 from Doubleday. Before turning to fiction Meg worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of business and consumer magazines, where she often managed to pitch stories involving dogs. Before that she worked on the staff of a family of technology magazines. (Despite all of her time there, she is still trying to figure out what a server is.) Meg received a B.A. from Providence College and a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. The daughter of a naval officer, Meg moved around every few years as a child, including a move her senior year of high school, which she is totally and completely over. Totally and completely: no scars. In 2012 Meg, her husband, their three children and a beloved border collie moved from Massachusetts to northern California. Despite California’s many charms (including the settings that inspired much of The Admissions), they lasted exactly one year and returned to the beautiful coastal town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, where they now live.  The characters in The Admissions have many juicy secrets, but Meg’s own secrets are not so newsworthy. (Or are they?) 

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Doubleday is giving one lucky winner a print copy of
The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore
Open internationally

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved A Thousand Lives - Giveaway

About the book:
Barrow’s first deployment with Buster was to Afghanistan.  While putting Buster through preliminary training sessions, Barrow quickly saw that Buster was, indeed, an expert.  He was methodical and super-steady, which meant he didn’t expend too much energy as he worked.  This would be vital in the extreme heat of the desert.  But, even more than that, Barrow found Buster to be flawless in all the trials he set up for him.  Buster located every test “find, going straight to the hidden arms and explosives.  In short, Barrow found him amazing and put his complete trust and confidence in the spaniel.

During their deployments together, Buster would save Barrow and his comrades many times.   He would be by their side during Taliban ambushes, dangerous night searches, and hunts for roadside bombs.  On one particularly harrowing patrol, Buster tracked down several suicide vests, and the would-be bombers were arrested.  But, not only did Buster protect Barrow and his fellow soldiers in life-and-death situations, he also proved to be a valuable asset in many other ways as well.  Besides being able to detect explosives, he could detect when Barrow and other soldiers needed cheering up.  He would often sense a soldier’s emotions, sit down by him and give him comfort.  Also, when Barrow and his team would be on patrol, Buster acted as a diplomat, entertaining the locals and the children he would meet.

From the start of their working relationship, Barrow and Buster worked as a team protecting the lives of their fellow comrades on the warfront with heroic feats, like sniffing out explosive vests that led to the arrest of two suicide bombers. Not only was Buster a professional on the field, he also knew how to follow emotions, from comforting a grieving solider to providing relief in times of stress. A best friend in dog's clothing, a RAF dog with his mossy feet firmly on the ground, Buster is truly a dog in a million.

Buster, uniquely, has served five tours of duty in three theatres of war (Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan)—more than any other military dog.  He also won the prestigious Crufts Friends for Life Award in 2012, and has gone on to become the official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police, the only dog in history to have been honored in that manner.

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About the authors:
RAF Police Flight Sergeant MICHAEL "WILL" BARROW joined the RAF at 18. He then specialized as a Drugs Detection Dog Handler and an Arms and Explosives Search Dog Handler, and has served in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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ISABEL GEORGE is an international bestselling author who writes with a passion and respect for animals in war. Her father's enchanting stories of mascots adopted by Royal Navy warships sparked an interest that has grown over the past 20 years into numerous features for national newspapers and periodicals in the UK, as well as books available all over the world.

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Thomas Dunne Books is giving 1 lucky winner a print copy of
Buster:  The Military Dog Who Saved A Thousand Lives
US Only

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Violinist of Venice - Promo & Giveaway

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

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ALYSSA PALOMBO has published short historical fiction pieces in Black Lantern, Novelletum, and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent a graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, as well as a trained classical musician. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Tonawanda, New York.

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St. Martin’sPress is giving one lucky winner a print copy of
The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
US/Canada Only

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Monday, December 14, 2015

The Word Game - Review #FRC2015

For overprotective parent Alyson Ward, any time her daughter, Lyla, is out of sight is reason to panic. So it’s a big step for her when she lets Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin’s house. Comforted by the knowledge that her sister, Tricia, is the chaperone, Alyson does the one thing she never thought possible: she lets go and trusts that her daughter will be safe.

But Alyson’s sense of peace is short lived. When Lyla comes home the next morning, she reveals something that could tear apart not only their family but also the entire community. Now, Alyson and Tricia must confront their painful shared past as they come together to help a little girl who they fear might be harboring terrible secrets similar to their own. Will the sisters be strong enough to face their demons in order to protect the child, even if it means telling their most private truths?

Review by Marlene Engel
Alyson is the ultimate definition of “helicopter mom.”  Hovering over her daughter and anticipating trouble in everyone’s lives because of the experiences she’s had in her past.  It surprises many when she agrees to allow Lyla to attend a sleepover at her sister’s house.  But when she returns home the next morning and tells of the happenings the night before, Alyson realizes that her fears were confirmed.  The information that Lyla discloses will change the course of their lives forever, while also dredging up painful memories of the past. 

A true page-turner, the author adds the perfect elements of suspense and emotion to this must-read book.  Told by the perspective of three women, this touching book is seen through the eyes of both adults and children and shows that when family bonds are strong, there’s nothing one wouldn’t do to keep the ones they love safe!
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About the Author:
Steena Holmes is the bestselling author of Finding Emma, her debut women’s fiction novel. Finding Emma tells the story of one mother’s journey to find her missing daughter and Steena has partnered with the Missing Children’s Society of Canada, a national charity for missing children, to donate proceeds from the sales of Finding Emma to help bring missing children home.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Do You Believe In Santa? - Promo & Giveaway

Do You Believe in Santa?
Evergreen Lane #1
By: Sierra Donovan
Released September 29, 2015

Miracles don’t just happen on 34th Street. They can happen right in your living room—if you’re willing to believe…

What grown woman claims to have seen Santa Claus? Mandy Reese, for one—on a very special Christmas Eve when she was eight years old. These days, Mandy works at a year-round Christmas store in Tall Pine, California, where customers love to hear about her childhood encounter with Saint Nick. But when Jake Wyndham arrives in town—charming, gorgeous, extremely practical—Mandy faces a dilemma. Deny what she saw, or let Jake think she’s sugarplum crazy?

Jake scouts hotel locations all over the country, but he’s never met anyone quite like Mandy before. Her warmth and sparkle are irresistible, but…meeting Santa? Really? Jake’s no Scrooge but he’s definitely skeptical. Then again, there are all kinds of things Jake never experienced until he came to Tall Pine. Like autumn snow. Mind blowing kisses. And the magic of falling head-over-heels, madly in love…

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About the Author:
Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She is a firm believer in Christmas, classic movies, happy endings and the healing power of chocolate. Sierra’s first novel, Love On The Air, was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her 2014 Kensington debut, No Christmas Like The Present, won the Golden Quill Award for Sweet Traditional Romance. Her 2015 novel, Do You Believe In Santa? marks the beginning of Sierra's new Evergreen Lane series. You can email Sierra at, or visit her website at

Author Links: 

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Snowflake Bay - Promo & Giveaway

Snowflake Bay
The Brides of Blueberry Cove #2
By: Donna Kauffman
Releasing September 29, 2015

There’s no place like seaside Blueberry Cove, Maine, at Christmas—and there’s nothing like a wedding, the warmth of the holidays, and an old crush, to create the perfect new start…

Interior designer Fiona McCrae has left fast-paced Manhattan to move back home to peaceful Blueberry Cove. But she’s barely arrived before she’s hooked into planning her big sister Hannah’s Christmas wedding—in less than seven weeks. The last thing she needs is for her first love, Ben Campbell, to return to neighboring Snowflake Bay…

As kids, Fiona was the bratty little sister Ben mercilessly teased—while pining after Hannah. But Fi never once thought of Ben like a brother. And that hasn’t changed. Except Fi is all grown up. Will Ben notice her now? More importantly, with her life in a jumble, should he? Or might the romance of the occasion, the spirit of the season, and the gifts of time ignite a long-held flame for many Christmases to come…

Something old might just become something new…

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About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author of the Cupcake Club Romance series, Donna Kauffman has seen her books reviewed in venues ranging from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal to Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan. She lives just outside of DC in the lovely Virginia countryside, where she is presently trying to makeover her newly empty nest into something that doesn’t have to accommodate piles of sports equipment falling out of her coat closet (okay, out of every closet...and under every bed....), size 13 cleats and sweaty uniforms cluttering her foyer (and stairwell, and laundry room, and...), and a kitchen that should have come with a traffic light. And a pantry monitor. (Anyone with a clever idea on how to repurpose lacrosse sticks into matching reading lamps, she’s all ears!) When she’s not stripping paint, varnishing an old auction house find, or trying to avoid bodily injury with her latest power tool purchase, she loves to hear from readers!

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Jingle Valley Wedding - Review

Review by Darcie Czajkowski
Weary from interminable winters and the solitude of farm life, Thomas Tate absconds to Arizona to start a new life. He has dreams of year-round sunshine, but more than that, finally finding love and starting a family. While the farm has been in the family for years, it was never his pride and joy, but rather the place he landed after a failed marriage. And with his three elder siblings disinterested in running it, he wants to sell. Only thing is, his younger sister, Julie, the sibling with whom he shares ownership of the farm, has an emotional attachment to it and has concerns about selling it.

But when Julie shares the news of Thomas’ desire to sell Jingle Valley Farm with her best friend, Freddy, and he plants a seed of turning the farm into a destination wedding venue, Julie is tickled by the possibility of trading in the bustling pulse and crushing crowds of New York City in favor of a quiet country life.

Could the very farm that Thomas is fleeing in the hopes of finding romance be the same one that leads Julie to finding a lasting love of her own?

In this sixth novel by Martha Reynolds, A Jingle Valley Wedding dazzles in a balancing act of country versus city life. The story explores the challenges in starting up a new business, as well as the disappointment along the dating road on a journey to find someone to share your life with. I adored Martha’s deviation from her normal style in this story, with characters who have fully developed senses of self and know what they want out of life. Both Julie and Thomas are very sympathetic characters, and I enjoyed following along with them on their journeys to find love. While not a full-blooded romance, this story blended romance with friendship, family, and the journey to find a fulfilling career. Another great read from Martha Reynolds!

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About the Author:
Martha Reynolds is the author of six novels, including the Amazon bestsellers Chocolate for Breakfast, Bits of Broken Glass, and Best Seller. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR’s Tell Me More poetry challenge. She and her husband live in Rhode Island, never far from the ocean.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Death Wears a Beauty Mask - Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  Unless of course the mystery is where you left your glasses or the car keys!  In this collection of short stories by famed author Mary Higgins Clark, an accurate genre would be “whodunit,” categorizing most of these imaginary tales as murder mysteries.

Death Wears a Beauty Mask, the first in the thriller line-up, is a novella that Clark began writing in 1974. It dramatizes the negative, the harsh, the cut-throat side of New York City’s fashion world.  Putting the original unfinished manuscript aside, Clark then wrote Where Are the Children?, the novel that launched her career as a New York Times bestselling author.  Now, four decades later, Clark returned to this novella and wrote its conclusion.

Sisters Alexandra and Janice Saunders lost their mother when Janice was born.  Alexandra, older by six years, became the only mother Janice ever knew.  Then, at age eighteen, Alexandra left for New York to pursue a modeling career.  Now, twelve years later, Alexandra is a successful model, still calling New York home, and Janice has graduated from USC and married an attorney named Mike. 

Unable to attend Janice’s graduation and wedding due to a modeling conflict, Alexandra made Janice promise that she and Mike would spend a week of their honeymoon in New York with Alexandra.  Janice and Mike arrive in New York, as scheduled, but Alexandra is surprisingly not at the airport to meet them; nor is she in her apartment, awaiting their arrival.  It soon becomes apparent that no one close to Alexandra has seen her in several days, and they’re all beginning to worry.  Before suitcases can even be unpacked, a missing persons report turns into a murder investigation.

The Other Stories include a fictional feast of intrigue, subterfuge, and electrifying suspense, pulling you in and holding you captive until the last page is read.  If you’ve read some of the author’s short works written over the course of her lifetime, you’ll recognize some of her favorite characters, such as Alvirah and Willy, and My Gal Sunday.  Because these featured anecdotes are really quite short, you’ll be amazed how quickly the time ─and the pages─fly by.

October is a particularly great month to read Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark.  And the closer we get the Halloween, the spookier they’ll become.  Grab a cup of hot apple cider or a pumpkin latte and get cozy with Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories.  Be sure to leave a light on!

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About the Author:
Mary Higgins Clark's books are world-wide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her books have sold over 100 million copies.  Mary Higgins Clark's fame as a writer was achieved against heavy odds. Born and raised in the Bronx, her father died when she was eleven and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers. On graduating from high school, she went to secretarial school, so she could get a job and help with the family finances. After three years of working in an advertising agency, travel fever seized her. For the year 1949, she was a stewardess on Pan American Airlines' international flights. "My run was Europe, Africa and Asia," she recalls. "I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down. After flying for a year, she married a neighbor, Warren Clark, nine years her senior, whom she had known since she was 16. Soon after her marriage, she started writing short stories, finally selling her first to Extension Magazine in 1956 for $100.

Left a young widow by the death of her husband from a heart attack in 1964, Mary Higgins Clark went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try her hand at writing books. Every morning, she got up at 5 AM and wrote until 7 AM, when she had to get her five children ready for school.

In 1996, Mary Higgins Clark married John Conheeney, the retired Chairman and CEO of Merrill-Lynch Futures. They live in Saddle River, New Jersey. Between them, they have seventeen grandchildren -- Mary's six and John's eleven.

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Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

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