Jul 072017
 


On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

This is a series I have wanted to start for a long time.

Murder on the Rocks
(Mack’s Bar Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (August 6, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758280152
Kindle ASIN: B00BPYGR0M

 

 

Mack’s Bar is one of those nice, friendly places where everybody knows your name. That’s great when someone’s buying you a round, but not so hot when you find yourself atop a list of murder suspects–with your fingerprints on the bloody knife!

Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton is a Milwaukee bar owner with a nose for trouble–literally. A neurological glitch has left her with extra perceptive senses. So when she stumbles upon a dead body in the alley behind the bar–the same spot where her own father was shot eight months earlier–she can tell right away there’s something fishy in the air. The lead detective thinks there’s a link between the two deaths, and he’ll need Mack’s help to sniff out the murderer amid the crowd of eccentric regulars. But when all the evidence points to her as the most likely culprit, it could be an early last call for Mack–and celebratory cocktails for a killer.

Includes drink recipes

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Growing up in Wisconsin my parents owned and operated a tavern, much like Mack’s Bar. Drinks, food, pool table, dart boards, regular patrons and visitors from out of town. Thankfully we never found a dead body in the back alley.

Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has taken over her father’s bar after he was murdered. That case is still open but without any real clues as to the killer. When Mack finds another body in almost the exact same place and she is one of the suspects she tries to stay calm and cool. She knows she didn’t kill anyone. But since the murder weapon did belong to the bar the suspects could be anyone of her staff or customers. When she explains to the lead detective about a neurological issue she was born with he actually doesn’t think she is crazy. He thinks maybe her hyper senses may aid in the capture of the killer. A killer that he thinks took her dad’s life as well. When he wants to go undercover and work at the bar she just can’t say no.

These characters are so likable. Mack loves what she does and in a business like hers you have to. Days are quickly consumed by the work it takes to keep the place up and running. She does have a boyfriend who is a paramedic, but they don’t have much time to spend together. Detective Duncan Albright seems more Mack’s type and they do have chemistry. In fact, when they are together is sends quite a rush to Mack’s senses. Most of the regulars remind me of customers who became friends with my parents over the years. All their reactions and actions rang true to life. Even the part where they gathered together trying to solve the crime themselves with the facts available to the public.

Learning about Mack’s Synaesthesia was very engrossing. When Mack explains the condition to Duncan the author is explaining it to the readers as well. It is a rare  and complicated condition that at first thought must be awful but Mack has adjusted to it so well, it absolutely amazed me.

I really enjoyed that the author brought some Milwaukee history to the story. Yes, Al Capone once owned a bar in Milwaukee complete with some interesting basement activity. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to think Mack’s Bar just might be the place. To spin the mystery to include part of this history was a fun plot line to follow with a twist that brings the whole story together.  A little different from a normal cozy, Mack works hand in hand with the police and they appreciate her input. The police also love the coffee she serves so they were stopping by often, even ones not involved in the case.

This is a well written story with characters I want to know more about. Murder with a Twist has moved way up on my To-Be-Read stack. I am excited about this series. 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Allyson K. Abbott is a pseudonym used by suspense writer Beth Amos. Beth has enjoyed a varied writing career that included a stint as a book reviewer and several years of nonfiction freelancing. Now she writes only fiction, and in stark contrast to her “day job” as an ER nurse, where she gets to save lives, the one common factor in her fiction, no matter what name it’s written under, is that someone always dies. Allyson K. Abbott is my little insider joke at having to pick yet another pseudonym. It’s not coincidence the initials are what they are.  Check out her webpage here and on Facebook here.

My review copy is a retired library copy.
If the winner would rather have an e-copy of the book that is o.k. with me.

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address for the print copy.
International if you choose an e-copy.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

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Contest Will End July 21, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

This book was from my private collection.

May 232017
 

The Simplicity of Cider: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (May 16, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501179723
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501154928
Kindle ASIN: B01HMXRVKO

 

 

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

After read Luck, Love & Lemon Pie last year I knew this was an author I would keep me eye on. When I heard about this new book I couldn’t wait to read it.

Isaac Banks and his son Bass, short for Sebastian, are on a cross country adventure. Isaac is trying to protect his son from the realities at home. They soon find themselves in Wisconsin’s Door County. A beautiful place full of cherries, a restaurant where goats graze on the roof, Green Bay (not the town where the Packers play), lighthouses and apple orchards. Isaac and Bass soon find themselves at Idun’s, an apple orchard that has been owned by the Lund family for five generations. Sanna Lund and her father now run the place and Sanna has a special talent for making cider. Her father has mortgaged the farm to purchase all the equipment she needs to produce on a large scale. Her brother has nothing to do with the orchard anymore but thinks it needs to be sold to take care of the debt because they have received a huge offer.

Issac and Bass agree to help with the chores. It is like fate brought them to this place. Sanna really doesn’t like kids but after a couple of days that changes as Bass finds a way into her heart. She and Isaac also feel a connection neither of them understand. When someone’s actions threaten Sanna’s precious trees and the entire orchard things get complicated.

This is such a beautiful story and so well written. The author has a way of writing that pictures of people, time, and place just come alive with such detailed imagery. Maybe it is because I have traveled to Door County several times that I had a crystal clear picture of everything she described but I truly believe it was her words that took me right along with Sanna, Issac and Bass.

She gives us a story of family, love, loss, and a little touch of something that “just is” and can only be explained by the belief that love carries through the generations and appears in unexpected ways.

These are such special characters. Their hearts are heavy with secrets and vulnerability that ebbs and flows through the entire series, even after some trust has been earned. The relationships built are so unique.

The Simplicity of Cider flows at a nice and easy pace. It was a relaxing read. I usually read a book like this in one or two nights but I didn’t want the story to end. I took time to savor every page and word. This book will make my list of Best Reads for 2017.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Amy and her books here

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

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Contest Will End JUNE 6, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
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Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jan 102017
 

My First Book Read in 2017

The Mutual Admiration Society: A Novel
by Lesley Kagen
Fiction/Family Life
Setting – Wisconsin
Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2017)
Paperback: 282 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1503941038
Kindle ASIN: B01G50QX2C

 

 

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark comes an unforgettable novel that illuminates the sweet and brittle bonds of family, the tenderness of growing up, the heartbreak of longing for what we’ve lost, and the poignancy of finding love.

FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.

Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

FACT: Lesley Kagen captures the voices of children in a profound way.

PROOF: This story!

Set in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we meet 11 year old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, her younger sister, Birdie, and her “fiancee”, Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield. They make up the Mutual Admiration Society. Tessie is sure she saw a crime committed and the society needs to start its investigation right away. They just need to get around some house rules and Gert Klement, their next door neighbor, who is not their biggest fan. In fact, she believes they need to be sent away.

These characters were first introduced to readers in The Undertaking of Tess, released in 2014. While the author does give plenty of details so that this book can be read on its own, you may want to read the prior story first for more background on the Finley’s. 

As a mystery lover I enjoyed Tessie and her lists and methodical investigation and that Birdie found a key clue and really helped Tessie figure out the suspected murder. Through the eyes of children in the late 1950’s I was able to see things in a different way. It was quite an adventure. Tessie has already dealt with so much in her young life and is responsible for watching over Birdie every day. Her lists do get a little repetitive but through them readers clearly see the way her mind works.

Kagen has crafted a heartwarming story but at times it is heartbreaking too. Her characters are so unique and the dialogue is true to a child’s voice and sprinkled liberally with humor. The world has changed since 1959. It was wonderful to escape back in time and tag along on this adventure with the Mutual Admiration Society.

I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author. She is an extremely talented storyteller.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Lesley Kagen and her books on her webpage here

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nov 182016
 

9WbGnJTR
On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I missed when they were first
released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Did a little rearranging on my bookshelves last week and was so excited I found this book I read it before I read the book for yesterday’s post. 🙂

dead-insider
Dead Insider (Loon Lake Mystery)
13th in Series
Mystery
Setting – Wisconsin
Tyrus Books (June 18, 2013)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1440533563
E-Book ASIN: B00CA9DKE2
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

In the midst of a catastrophic August rainstorm, a grisly discovery shatters the serenity of a summer evening in northern Wisconsin. Moving quickly to prevent a panic among tourists, Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris enlists the forensic and interrogation skills of her close friend and fellow fly fisherman, the retired dentist “Doc” Osborne. Within hours of launching their investigation, they find themselves faced with a national media circus as Loon Lake becomes the focus of a murderous scenario that links the murder to the race for the U.S. Senate by a woman who is heir to a Northwoods fortune and other, less savory, family traditions.

In the meantime, Doc Osborne’s eldest daughter, Mallory, enters into a relationship that may put her life at risk–unless her father and Chief Ferris can find the killer stalking the residents of Loon Lake.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Reading this after the crazy political season we just experienced seemed fitting.

It is raining cats and dogs in Look Lake. Roads and fields are flooding and while blocking vehicles from traveling through the water something awful is found floating now a new rainfall river. The findings lead to a woman running for the U.S. Senate. Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris has her hands full. Thankfully her friends and officers are there to help her pull all the pieces of this terrible murder investigation together.

Fly fisherwoman Lew Ferris has caught a huge case and relies on the resources available to her to solve it. I had my main suspect but the twisted plot made the conclusion and the motive totally surprising.  What followed was a tragic tale that left me almost visibly shaking. The pain felt by the killer’s mother just broke my heart.

Ms. Houston dug deep for this one. The laid back community of Loon Lake was not only rocked by the flooding but a terrible murder. People came together to help with the case and handle the media because tourism in the bread and butter of this community. I felt a plethora of emotions as the story continued. How could something so awful happen in this little town?

I enjoy these characters and admire the soothing calm they find standing in a lake or river casting their line time and time again. Sometimes never catching a thing. It’s in those places Lew and Doc can order their thoughts and break away from the stress and trauma of the case. I can see their faces so clearly. My grandfather was a fisherman and his perfect place to relax was in his little boat out on the water with a fishing pole in his hands. He never had the stress of a murder to solve but his life wasn’t easy. I loved going out in his boat with him. Some days we caught a lot of fish and some days we just caught some sun and had good conversation, me the youngster not even in my teens and him sharing his life’s stories with me. The look on his face was just peaceful out on the water. Times I will never forget. The stories in this series touch my heart because of my relationship with him. Doc Osbourne’s thinking and temperament remind me so much of the wonderful fisherman in my life. Lew is a strong woman in a top position and she takes her job seriously. Together they make a great team.

Sadly, these little vacations north to Loon Lake are way too short. I hope to return again soon. Not so much for the mysteries, although those are good, but for the serenity outside of the drama. Both grab a hold and don’t let go.

perfect 2016

 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

To find out more bout Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away my signed copy!
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

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5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End December 2, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
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Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

This book was from my private collection.

Oct 122016
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640
I anxiously await each book in this series.
I am thrilled to have Kathleen stop here as part of her Great Escapes Book Tour!

MEMORY MUSKETS large banner 640

Kathleen Ernst

Keeping It Real
By Kathleen Ernst

 

I used to work as a curator at a large living history site called Old World Wisconsin. Over fifty historic structures from all over the state have been restored on a sprawling 576-acre site. Many are rare examples of ethnic architecture constructed by some of the early immigrants who settled the state.

After a twelve-year stint at Old World Wisconsin I moved on, but I soon discovered that I missed the site. To me, the obvious answer was to write a book set there. Better yet, why not write a series? I missed the whole historic sites world, actually, and a series would let me visit many special places. Thus the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites Mysteries were born.

MEMORY OF MUSKETSChloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin. When I began writing the first book, Old World Murder, some of my writer-friends urged me to consider setting the book at a fictional historic site. My writer-friends often have very good advice, so I did consider it. But honestly, not for long. How could I make up a big historic site when I had a real place fixed so firmly in my brain?

One of my goals for the series was to introduce readers to wonderful historic sites and museums. As the series has progressed, Chloe has traveled to an old lighthouse, all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites, an abandoned flour mill (now the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis) and more—all real places, open to the public.

To my delight, many readers who live within traveling distance of the Upper Midwest have visited one or more of the sites featured in the Chloe mysteries. Some have visited all of them. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers who have read one of the books and then gone exploring. I’ve added maps, photos, and other resources to my website to enable armchair or actual travel to the locations featured in the books.

The 7th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets, is largely set back at Old World Wisconsin. I had a great time visiting my own memories of my years at the historic site, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to conjure up a fictional setting in such vivid detail.

If you give the series a try, I hope you enjoy visiting the setting locations vicariously within the pages. Or maybe, if you’re ever in the area, you can explore them first-hand.

~Kathleen

MEMORY OF MUSKETS

A Memory of Muskets (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2016)
Paperback: 408 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745152
E-Book ASIN: B01APSYQ1A
goodreads-badge-add-plus

Synopsis

Curator Chloe Ellefson is happily planning to spotlight home-front challenges and German immigrants at Old World Wisconsin’s first Civil War reenactment―but her overbearing boss scorns her ideas and proposes staging a mock battle. And when a reenactor is found dead at one of the historic site’s German farms, Chloe’s boyfriend, cop Roelke McKenna, suspects murder.

The more Roelke learns about reenacting, the more he fears that a killer will join the ranks at Chloe’s special event. Then Chloe discovers a disturbing secret about Roelke’s Civil War-era ancestors. Together they struggle to solve crimes past and present . . . before Chloe loses her job and another reenactor loses his life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

My first experience at Old World Wisconsin was back in 5th grade for a school field trip and have visited several times since but not lately, at least in person. Through this series I have been able to visit there and some other wonderful places in the Midwest.

Our protagonist, Chloe Ellefson together with Byron Cooke, curator of interpretation, are planning a Civil War program. Thanks to their boss it turns into a Civil War Reenactment. While doing research for the event she discovers some ties to Roelke’s ancestors and the family home she is planning to move into with him. It may explain the disturbing feelings she has about the place. They both get distracted away from their move when a man is found dead at Old World Wisconsin. Dressed as a reenactor, the man has no identification, and this leads the case in several different directions.

Kathleen Ernst always writes a great story with a captivating mystery and the perfect amount of history too. She gives us very detailed descriptions that make the story come alive and easy to visualize. I enjoyed the way she skips back to the past, the 1860’s, and back to present time in this case, is the early 1980’s. As always you can see she has deeply researched the subject matter and I like that I actually learn something while reading every story.

I found Rosina’s story to be very interesting. Her traveling to the New World and making her way to Wisconsin and her life there.

Chloe and Roelke have gotten even closer but they are still building trust as their lives together starts a new chapter.

All the characters are written so well. Chloe’s boss, Petty, not only pushed her buttons but mine. You know the type, my way or the highway, moving deadlines just because he can. and adding things to programs some times just to get her on the defensive. At times you could cut the tension with a knife.

The mystery itself tangled around itself at times and the clues did not always more the investigation forward but took us back to review things that were missed. I was again caught by surprise as we reached the end for that revealing moment when all the clues fell into place.

Ernst is a strong storyteller. At times I could picture all of us gathered around her listening to her tell us Rosina’s story and catching us up with Chloe and all the people in her life. Kind of like the interpreters at Old World Wisconsin. Something she actually used to do. Her love for the place and the history shines bright in every one of her stories.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Kathleen Ernst

About The Author –

Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history!  In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

Author Links:

Webpage      Blog     Facebook
Purchase Links:

Amazon – B&N Indie Bound 

GIVEAWAY
Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed and personalized print copy of
A Memory of Muskets: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery.
The giveaway ends at midnight October 14, 2016.
Please include your email (ex., janedoe –at – janedoe.com) to facilitate winner notification.
Good luck!

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

October 6 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
October 7 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
October 8 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
October 8 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT
October 9 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
October 10 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
October 11 – View from the Birdhouse – INTERVIEW
October 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY
October 13 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
October 14 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
October 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
October 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
October 17 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
October 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
October 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

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Sep 092016
 

9WbGnJTR
On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I missed when they were first
released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

I first found out about Sandra Balzo back when I started blogging years ago when I was contacted to review Running on Empty, the 1st book in her Main Street Mysteries. I loved that whole series. It was then I found out she was from Wisconsin and wrote the Maggie Thorsen Mysteries and that they are set in Wisconsin. I started collecting them and read the first 2 right away. Then my blog took off and I had so many books to read and review. The book below and book 4 – Brewed, Crude and Tattooed and book 5 – From The Grounds Up have been waiting on my TBR shelves. The final 3 are on my wish list 🙂

The copy I have personally that I will be giving away was published in 2012 by Worldwide Library. It was originally released by Severn House first in hardcover in 2008 and then in paperback in 2009 and published as an e-book in 2011.

bean-there-done-thatBean There, Done That (A Maggy Thorsen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Mass Market Paperback: 251 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0373267903
E-Book ASIN: B004RRB1LE
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

Here’s a tip: if your ex-husband’s mistress-cum-missus. asks for your help in proving that he cheated on her while he was married to you, just say no.

And you most certainly should not invite this new missus., Mrs. Rachel Thorsen, in for a cup of coffee. But big-hearted Maggy can’t seem to help her own hospitality.

Unfortunately, most unfortunately, this mistress-cum-missus disappears shortly after her coffeehouse confab with Maggy and is later found murdered…making Maggy’s ex, Ted, the chief suspect.

Despite the tempting satisfaction of seeing her ex go down, Maggy knows Ted is innocent. Cheater? Most definitely. Murderer? Most definitely not. So Maggy reluctantly agrees to help him. Rachel’s wealthy family, however, disagrees and spares no expense in trying to put Ted behind bars.

Now it’s up to Maggy to discover the truth…even if it upsets her on-again, off-again relationship with the handsome Sheriff Jake Pavlik…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Maggie has a huge heart and it gets her in trouble. Her ex’s new wife, Rachel asks for help because she believes Ted is cheating on her just like he cheated on Maggie with Rachel when they were married. She agrees even though she knows she shouldn’t. Then suddenly Rachel is missing and when her body is found all the evidence points directly at her cheating spouse. Now Ted may cheat on his wives but killing one of them, no way. Suddenly Maggie is in investigation mode up to her eyeballs and her “boyfriend”,  Sheriff Jake Pavlik is not happy about it. Maggie believes she can get someone to spill the beans and prove Ted innocent but she never imagined in her wildest dreams what she would truly find.

The author brews up a fast and fun mystery for readers to enjoy. It is filled with humor and a solid mystery and ends with a shocking twist.

I love this book is set in a Milwaukee coffeehouse, the characters all have a quirkiness quality about them, and no that doesn’t mean all Wisconsin people are quirky. There is also just the right amount of romantic tension that every cozy needs.  I enjoyed reading about places I have been and know. The dialogue was familiar and comfortable.

For me this was  a “perfect escape”, just an hour down the road. I hope to read more books in this series soon.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Sandra Balzo and her books on her webpage here.

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away my copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End September 23, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*This book was from my private collection.

Jul 222016
 
love luck and lemon pie
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (July 12, 2016)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501121548
E-Book ASIN: B0176M3QSM
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When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Marriage is work and when MJ Boudreaux sees her marriage starting to crumble she tries to bring them closer by learning more about her husband’s love of poker. Instead of bringing them together she becomes almost addicted spending less and less time with her family. She even enters a tournament and wins a trip to Vegas where her whole life could change completely, but is that what she really wants.

The cover caught my attention and then I saw it was set in Wisconsin and written by a Wisconsin author so I was quickly all in.

While poker was never my game I had things in common with MJ. My parents owned a tavern and several “gents” arrived daily for their euchre games and men and woman came a few nights a week for euchre tournaments. As it was my parent’s place I was tending bar and playing cards all through high school and college. MJ’s story rang true with me.

Amy E. Reichert takes a very interesting look at love, luck, jealously and family life in this story. Any married couple will tell you keeping your marriage alive takes work and that there are ebbs and flows and how you handle those ebbs and flows makes all the difference. MJ and Chris were going through the motions but weren’t communicating. MJ tried but both parties have to be trying.

The author shows things mostly from MJ’s point of view of her family dynamics. A typical Midwest family with typical family problems. A daughter in her last year in high school in the college planning phase. A son involved in many extracurricular things and adjusting to his teenage years. Chris seemed to be absent a lot, leaving the household and kids to MJ. Although we learn he is the cook in the family. I really didn’t like Chris and felt MJ’s pain.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is a story many women will be able to relate to. It is not a romantic book, it is a story of family lives and making it work. There are obstacles along the way and we see how this family deals with them. It is a journey, an emotional journey.

enjoyable 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 Find out more about Amy and her books here


GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End August 5, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

May 282016
 

This book is on my wish list. It takes place in Wisconsin!!! I will be reviewing it some time this summer!
on the chopping block

On the Chopping Block:
Cooking and Baking Cozy Mystery
(A Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Book 1)

Self Published
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Print Length: 228 pages
ASIN: B01EQIJ8UO
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Greek-American restaurateur and single mom Calliope “Callie” Costas faces Greek tragedy when a murder shakes the picturesque waterfront community of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin.

Recipes included!

Building a small business has been murder, but Callie Costas didn’t expect to be confronted with an actual body. The 36-year-old Greek-American proprietor of “Callie’s Kitchen,” a meals-from-scratch business in an idyllic small town, has been busy creating a post-divorce life for herself, her young daughter and her Yorkie, Koukla. After a lot of hard work (including staving off her father’s continual advice), she’s got the locals and tourists clamoring for her delicious Mediterranean dishes and Midwest comfort food classics. Recently, she’s started a budding romance with a fellow foodie, the wealthy owner and chef of Crystal Bay’s most popular bistro.

However, success is as fleeting as one of Wisconsin’s glorious autumn days. As local businesses begin to shut down due to a slow economy, Callie is struggling not to become another statistic. A contest with a hefty cash prize seems like the perfect chance to fix her financial woes, until a shocking murder threatens not only her livelihood – but her life.

When she’s targeted as a prime suspect by an attractive expat British detective, Callie’s situation becomes more delicate than her Greek egg-lemon soup. She’s got to find the killer and fast if she wants to protect her daughter, save her business and stay alive.

Don’t miss this page-turning first installment in a delicious new culinary cozy series!

About the Author*
Award-winning writer Jenny Kales is the author of ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, the first in The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English and spent several years working as a copywriter and corporate communications marketing writer for many top companies. Her freelance writing about parenting has appeared in many venues including The TODAY Show Parents site. Her award-winning blog, The Nut-Free Mom, has been featured in newspapers and websites around the world.

Fiction writing is her first love and her marriage into a Greek-American Midwestern family inspired The Callie’s Kitchen mysteries, featuring Calliope Costas, food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes.

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier.

Author Links

Webpage     Facebook      Twitter     GoodReads      Instagram
Purchase

B & N

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Feb 162016
 

special guest blue
I am so happy Mary Ellen Hughes could stop by for a visit today!
Let’s give her a great welcome!

Mary Ellen Hughes author pic

Hi Everyone,

WHAT’S IN A NAME?
by Mary Ellen Hughes

When I talk to people about my books, there’s one question I can count on being asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” But a question I rarely hear is, “How do you come up with names for your characters?”

I suppose that’s because most people take character names for granted. A reader makes note of them in order to keep everybody in the story straight but mostly doesn’t think much about them. For me, though, and I suspect most authors, character names are very important. Margaret Mitchell, for example, changed Scarlett O’Hara’s first name several times before settling on one, calling her star character Pansy for a while. I think we can all be glad Ms. Mitchell moved on from that one.

pickled piper

When I started putting ideas together for THE PICKLED PIPER, the first book of my Pickled and Preserved mystery series, I had no problem coming up with a name for my main character. Since she was a young woman who would be making and selling all things pickle-related, what could be better than Piper?

But Piper wasn’t the only character in the book. She has an aunt and uncle living nearby, a shop assistant, neighboring store owners and other townspeople, along with, of course, the victim and murderer. All these characters needed names, and ones that fit. I wouldn’t, for example, name Piper’s aunt, who is around sixty years old, Britny. And for Piper’s twenty year-old helper, Gladys would be all wrong but Amy was right.

A novelist has to come with more names than you might realize, sometimes just for walk-on characters who need a name simply to avoid being continually referred to as “elderly gentleman,” or “her.” Where do we get them all? When I first started writing and needed a name for an older person, I’d flip through the obituary section of my newspaper. If the obituaries had photos attached, all the better. Mixing and matching first and last names kept me out of lawsuit territory.

Younger characters were a little tougher. A copy of a baby-naming book helped there—though it did startle my family at first until I explained why I needed it. Then I discovered the Social Security website, which lists baby names that were popular in each decade. That was—and is–so helpful! I also found a few random name generator websites, which come up with combinations of first and last names, sorted by gender or ethnicity, as well as “common” or “rare.” A great time saver!

Until I settle on a character’s name, I often can’t completely picture him or her. Martin will look and act differently from Matt, and, though close, Patsy won’t be quite the same as Patty, at least to my mind. If, farther down the road, I see the need to change a character’s name, I’ll often go back and tweak their description to go with the new moniker.

scene of the brineIn SCENE OF THE BRINE, my latest and third Pickled and Preserved Mystery book, I needed a name for a character new to the series, a forty-something, female caterer. “Sugar” popped into my head, and with it I immediately knew what she looked like: attractive, silver-blond, and with a Rubenesque figure. Her personality grew from that, and I was soon good to go.

Sugar had a college-aged son, and it didn’t take me long to name him Zach, a popular name of his generation. Zach majored in botany and, while bright, also had a bit of a temper. It was that last thing that got him into a pile of trouble in my story. Would that have happened if I’d named him Nigel or Preston? Doubtful. But we’ll never know because a mother called Sugar would never give her son either of those names, would she?

Family names, for me, at least, are off-limits, as are close friends, since the image that comes with them is too strong to shape into the character I want to write. Also in that “don’t touch” category are one-of-a-kind celebrity monikers and names already famous in fiction such as Scarlett, Kinsey, or Reacher.

It tends to narrow the choices, which makes me sometimes envy science fiction and fantasy writers. If they need a name, they can just scramble a few letters or make it vaguely middle-earth-ish. So much simpler. And they don’t have to worry about age, either.

But then, I’d have a hard time picturing a Ruavu Flagmatag.

Wouldn’t you?
~Mary Ellen

Thank you so much for visiting today Mary Ellen! Feel free to add a Lori or a Dolly to your stories anytime 🙂

scene of the brineScene of the Brine:
Pickled and Preserved Mystery

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – New York
Release Date: February 2, 2016
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Chris O’Leary
Cover Design by Karen Oberrender
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425262474
E-Book ASIN: B00W2ZKQ9Q
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The national bestselling author of License to Dill returns with a dilly of a pickle.

Piper Lamb has to take a break from jarring her delicious pickles and preserves to blow the lid off a poisoner….

Business is booming at Piper’s Picklings in Cloverdale, New York. But not all is sweet in the life of Piper’s number one customer and friend, local caterer Sugar Heywood. Sugar is dating wealthy realtor Jeremy Porter, but his family doesn’t approve. After their unscrupulous accountant finds some dirt on Sugar, the family quickly urges Jeremy to throw her out like rotten fruit.

Things are further spoiled after the accountant is found poisoned, and all evidence points to Sugar’s son, Zach. With the Porter family determined to avoid scandal, it won’t be easy for Piper to preserve Zach’s innocence. And after someone falls victim to a poisoned jar of some of her brandied cherries, Piper’s got a peck of trouble to deal with herself…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Check out that cover and the new door to Piper’s Picklings! Handcrafted and a true work of art. Piper has a party to celebrate her new entrance and it seems almost everyone from Cloverdale attends. Thankfully new resident, Jeremy Porter and his right hand man,  Dirk Unger skipped the festivities. Unger has been making life difficult for some people in town, like Piper’s friend, Sugar Heywood. Dirk, the jerk, dug up some dirt and Sugar was terribly hurt. She lost her boyfriend and a huge catering gig. When “the jerk” is murdered, Sugar’s son becomes the prime suspect but before the murder is solved, others are hurt and Piper finds herself in hot water.

Trips to Cloverdale are never dull, that is for sure. Hughes introduces us to the Porter family. I hated the whole snobby bunch and that was just awesome. These characters like all my favorites were wonderfully written and totally believable. I wasn’t surprised when Dirk Unger was killed. He was a nasty man. What surprised me was the twists and turns we took to find the murderer. Just when I thought “I know who it is!”, something happened to prove me wrong. It sure was a fun as I kept trying.

There is a bit of romance as Will remains patient while Scott still tries to worm his way back into Piper’s life. The man has been trouble since he showed up in Cloverdale. I think Piper may be on the verge of making a decision.

Mary Ellen Hughes has written a really smart mystery delightfully flavored with some of the best cozy characters. I have liked each of these stories more than the last. The characters continue to evolve and even the mysteries get better and better and each were great already.

For someone that doesn’t like pickles I sure do love these pickled and preserved mysteries.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 About This Author

Mary Ellen Hughes may live in Maryland today but she started out right here in Wisconsin!!! Find out more about Mary Ellen and her books here on her webpage.



Just click on book covers for more information or to order.

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

This year I am trying to build my Twitter following so for this giveaway 4 Bonus Entries will be awarded by following me on Twitter. @dollycas

Leave a comment for Mary Ellen for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End March 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jan 222016
 

9WbGnJTR

Back in 2005, way before I started blogging, I joined Paperback Swap. I had hundreds of books gathering dust and with Paperback Swap, I could trade them for new books I wanted to read for just the cost of postage. I went a little crazy and soon had a huge To Be Read stack, o.k. stacks. I found today’s book there when I was searching for Wisconsin authors. I was just able to read it now thanks to Flashback Friday

driving sidewaysDriving Sideways: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin/Road Trip West
Ballantine Books (May 20, 2008)
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0345501103
E-Book ASIN: B00199B2XU
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Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

With her newfound vitality (and Larry’s kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stops in between: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Rockies, Las Vegas–and a memorable visit to thank Larry’s family for the second chance.

Yet Leigh’s itinerary takes a sudden detour when she picks up a seventeen-year-old hitchhiker, Denise, a runaway with a bunch of stories and a couple of secrets. Add a long-lost mother, a loaded gun, an RV full of swingers, and Hall and Oates’s Greatest Hits to the mix, and Driving Sideways becomes a hilarious and original journey of friendship, hope, and discovery.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Why did I wait so lone to read this book? Leigh Fielding lives with her brother and his wife about 30 minutes from where I am sitting. I loved all the local references. Also my mother was on dialysis for some time before she died so those references rang true as well.

Leigh was lucky to receive a kidney transplant and through a mix up the anonymous donation didn’t stay so anonymous. Leigh has planned quite a road trip and she has added a stop to visit one of her donor’s relatives. She wants to find out what he was like and to thank them for the gift they have given her. Against her brother’s wishes Leigh heads west in what turns into a very memorable trip. She gains a passenger along the way, they stop to see the sights, visit her best friend in Colorado, meet up with an old boyfriend, has an interesting stop at the donor’s mother’s house and then head to California to hopefully reconnect with her mother.

This was Jess Riley’s debut novel and it a heartwarming and sometimes a heartbreaking story.  It is also full of some laugh out loud and crazy moments. I found it to be very well written with a very balanced pace. Easy to picture all the events as they happened because of the author’s descriptive writing style. There was a twist that added just a little suspense too. It was almost a learning experience as Leigh has PKD, polycystic kidney disease. I had heard of this disease but didn’t know much about it.

The trip that Leigh calls her Unfinished Business Trip was quite a journey. I am honored to have been able to travel on it right along with her. I loved this story.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Wisconsin native Jess Riley spent much of her childhood being punished for lying and/or passing notes during class, both of which qualified her for a possible future as a novelist.

Jess has been a waitress, a blue cheese packager, and a school grant writer. She worked at a toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze and lived to tell about it. She’s also worked at a medium-security men’s prison, which was much less stressful. Jess graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1998 with degrees in English and History. She shares a drafty old house in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband and a neurotic dog that despises public radio.

You can follow her on Facebook here.


GIVEAWAY
I would love to share my copy with you.
Remember this is a used book.

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 5, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

~This book was from by personal collection.~

Death on West End Road (Hamptons Murder Mysteries) by Carrie DoyleBUY TODAY
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