Finding a New Cozy Series

The gardener and I visited our local used bookstore and loaded up a box. I know, I know. I’ve said I have a shelf and a half of unread books. I have a lot of want-to-read books on my Goodreads list. I’ve promised people their books will be read in the next phase. But the gardener was out of his books to read. He reads hardcover-only historical fiction, preferably in Asian settings.  Nothing too specific hahaha. I didn’t happen to have any of those on my shelf, so off we went.

Can you imagine me waiting around in a bookstore with discounted and sale prices and twiddling my thumbs?

All of this is to say It’s Not My Fault.

I thought I’d check out mysteries and poetry. I don’t even bother to look for memoirs because our store rarely has any in stock. Maybe people don’t give up their memoir copies as quickly?

In the somewhat lame poetry section, I found a Billy Collins book, so I grabbed that. But most of the rest were obviously cast-off textbooks/the classics–and I already have those.

In mysteries I had better luck. I prefer cozies. And of cozies I most prefer theatre (those are hard to find) and cats (those are easy to find) and retail shops (antique, book, etc.). What I never thought I’d find would be dolls!

And here they were: 4 wonderful mysteries of the Dolls To Die For series by Deb Baker. The entire short series right in front of me. And guess where they take place? Phoenix! (aka home)

So I brought them home where they are right at home.

When I lined them up with the doll buggy, I was reminded of a poem in Doll God. “Vintage Doll Buggy” was originally published in The Antigonish Review, a Canadian literary journal. I wrote this poem about war and innocence, focusing on a green doll buggy I’d seen in an antique store. But I happen to have two versions of that buggy–one pink and blue; the other red and white. In the poem you will see why I used the green buggy instead of mine.


Vintage Doll Buggy



“Every Boy Wants a Pop Gun”

— the company’s slogan. And

not just guns, but air rifles,

clicker pistols, caps.

They specialized in the arms

industry for boys in striped Ts.


How this paean to fertility

flowered in that factory, it’s hard

to figure.  Pre-war, maybe 1930s.

Pressed from Ford plant

scrap metal, like the guns.


The inside cups like a clam shell.

Like an embrace.  A sheath.

With a satin pillow, it’s a rolling

coffin, a time capsule.


When the fighting began,

the government banned metal

for toys.  The war effort claimed

even the green paint.  At the factory

they pressed en bloc clips

for the M1 Garand rifle.


Now its wheels bow out,

the green paint

chipped and dulled.

The yellow canopy still reverses.

A calm lingers inside as when

one fingers past a peony’s petals.


castle promotional cover

Click through to Amazon

Nancy Ann Storybook doll with pre-war doll buggy


Filed under Arizona, Books, Doll God, Dolls, Fiction, Literary Journals, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry Collection, Writing

46 responses to “Finding a New Cozy Series

  1. Lovely post, Luanne. Aren’t bookstores wonderful? What an enchanting exploration you had. Who knew such books as Dolls to Die For existed! Loved the reminders of Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, which I used to have. Alas, I no longer have that small collection. To my regret, during my single parenting days, I took them to a pawn shop in order to afford ski pants for my son (he was a whippersnapper of 10 then). When I went back to claim them, they had vanished. I will always miss them!

    • Elaine, I’m so sorry for bringing up such a sad subject for you–of your Nancy Ann Storybooks. But I’ll bet your son was thrilled with the ski pants and what they meant to him. I also am sorry that I had neglected to ever put up my review of The Goodbye Baby on Goodreads and Amazon. Something made me think of it and I went to check it out and couldn’t find that I had put it up, so I did over the weekend.

  2. Well chosen words, Luanne. I’m an admirer of good poetry. It’s not so easy to come up with few words that say a lot.

  3. Wow–those books were perfect for you. It definitely was not your fault! 🙂
    I am just as bad with getting around to reading books (including friends’ books), but still buying more.

    • I started wondering if it’s some sort of disorder that makes someone buy a buy when they have a book or more unread at home, but I think it’s a way of having the book in the ready, waiting in the wings, so to speak. What do you think is the reason we do it?

  4. My TBR is massive, and includes you. *sigh* I’m sorry.

  5. We have an op shop here in our small town Luanne, and every time I see a doll in there I think of you! Some of them I’m sure would be quite valuable, but I have no idea about antique dolls (and they don’t last long before someone grabs them). I think if you ever came to visit you’d love this place 🙂

    • Haha, I had to look up “op shop”! I love that name! Do you still have as many op shops as you used to? We are losing so many, and I think that the internet is to blame. I’m sure I would love it! especially if it has old photographs in it!

      • Haaa – I didn’t realise you wouldn’t know what an ‘op shop’ was. Silly me – our language can be so confusing sometimes 😀 Yes – we still have a lot here because people love recycling old stuff and very little gets thrown away (and also, country people may be a little afraid of the internet, so they just take things to the ‘op shop’ instead of selling online) 😉

  6. Just around the corner from where I work is the public library AND a terrific used bookstore where I recently picked up “Dog Songs” by Mary Oliver. That was a find! I’ve found all kinds of quirky treasures but I find if I go looking for something specific, as I did the other day searching for Auden, I’m not so lucky.

    • That was a lucky find, for sure. A relatively new book and by mary Oliver yet. Although I will admit I am kind of off Oliver right now, which I won’t get into. But I do recognize that it’s a real find. No, it’s not a good idea to search for something specific in a used book store. That is just asking for a disappointing outcome. It’s the surprise that is fun.

  7. We suffer from the same dilemma 🙂 I have a shelf of books I have not read, but can’t keep myself from buying new(old) books when I’m making the rounds with my mom. Maybe one day I will get around to reading them all 🙂

    • Sometimes I go through the whole shelf (and a half) looking for a book to read and I’m not in the mood for anything there. That is a troubling feeling, especially knowing I would probably like most of them ;). It’s probably an excuse to “need” another book.

  8. I love this post! I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a used bookstore empty-handed. (My partner only reads music biographies, lol.) Mostly, though, I love this post because of your poem, which I read twice because it deserved a second read to pause and appreciate and wonder and marvel. And oh, how brilliant was this line: “With a satin pillow, it’s a rolling
    coffin, a time capsule.” I almost got chills–so, so nice.

    • I was thinking about you when I found these Dolls to Die For books! While only somebody who genuinely like cozies would want to read them (most likely), they are quite well written. About your comments about the poem, thank you so much, Cinthia. That means a lot to me.

  9. Dolls to Die For – amazing!! And about Phoenix, too – a mystery marriage for sure for you!! 🙂
    Please never let Pretty visit you and go on a book search – I don’t think we have enough dinero (which is Spanish for money) for that expedition…enjoy your new reads!

  10. Ian

    “They specialized in the arms
    industry for boys in striped Ts.”
    Love this, Luanne!
    And I know what you mean about bookstores. Our favorite haunt in Portland (where we tend to vacation every year ) is Powell’s Books. This year, because I still have my own shelf and a half of unread books, I was quite restrained and only came out with half a dozen. Or so….

    • Oh, thanks, Ian! I’ve heard that Powell’s is an amazing store. I’m jealous because I would love to visit it!

      • Ian

        Yeah! For us it is like a holy pilgrimage. The “City of Books” downtown location is essentially the size of a large, multi-story department store. We could literally spend days in there!

  11. I am late to this very important post, Luanne! I love Storybook dolls, your Nancy Ann doll and adorable pre-war red and white doll buggy. xo
    I think your heading into a bookstore and your sincere apologies to those books in a “to be read soon pile” is so kind. We all must move in mysterious ways, choosing diverse books of eclectic tastes. I am a big fan of humor, wit, mysteries, poetry and anything to “escape” into while reading. It would be hard to resist this quartet of books. My Mom would enjoy someone reading them aloud to her. 🙂
    *Your shelf made a beautiful backdrop for the new doll mystery books, Luanne. <3
    Hope your husband found some books of interest in the specific genre of historical fiction (in preferably Asian settings.)

    • He did find a couple of books, Robin. It’s getting harder and harder to find them because he only likes to read hardcovers. And online the hardcovers that are the gaps in his series are still expensive even when they are used. So it’s hit or miss at the used book store, but he will take other settings in a pinch ;). Today I posted about the little free library I found. Do they have those by you? If so, do they have the kind of books your mom likes? I was so thrilled to find this place for the free trading of books! Better for me than a regular library because I am always late and get fees, which is a real downer hah. Yes, the buggies are so cute. And the Nancy Anns are so appealing. I always like to look at them at the antique stores and flea markets.

      • I had to let a lot of my Mom’s dolls go for nearly nothing. Well, that may be a double negative, Luanne. Please ignore. . .
        There are a few free library book houses in our neighborhood, just down the street behind my apartment building. I need to take a photograph of one of them soon. Save it for a rainy or snowy day where a sunny thought may be spread, starting with yours.
        I will come visit and then, off to bed! I get measured for my new lens tomorrow afternoon. (Work till 2:30.)
        My cataract surgery is on last Friday of October. Felicia is my champion that day and sleepover there, then up to my Mom’s for my last vacation week. Thanks for asking about my Mom. She can take any book out of the huge library in her three winged three floored senior apt building but she reads sane words and had to re-read her books. I like that she writes a lot down when the history channel or nature shows cone on television. 🙂

        • What a shame about your mom’s dolls. I remember you telling me that. So sad for your mother after how she treasured them.
          Yes, definitely photograph your little free libraries! They are so cheerful!
          I will be sending you powerful healing vibes on the last Friday of October and can’t wait to hear how well it goes.

  12. Pingback: Another Opportunity for a New (to me) Book | Writer Site

  13. How much fun is this! A cozy series that revolves around dolls. I love used book stores. And your husband’s tastes in reading are intriguing. I agree: it’s not your fault. 🙂

    • He also like those Jean Auel novels. Everything I am not that interested in haha. Thank you for agreeing that it’s not my fault. How can it be?! hahaha

  14. Luanne going to a book store is like going into a candy store to me. Recently went to a second hand book fair, oh dear so many books I will never get through them all. But they give you a giant shopping bag and tell you to fill it up for $25 who could resist that!

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