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.”

Dec 162016
 

9WbGnJTR
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.


Poison at the PTA
5th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Wisconsin
An Obsidian Mystery (February 4, 2014)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451415073
E-Book ASIN: B00DYX9K8I

 

 

Poison at the PTA by Laura Alden – As the Tarver Elementary School PTA president, Beth Kennedy is always on the go—especially when someone puts murder on the agenda.

Beth has been running nonstop to be the best PTA president, bookstore owner, and single parent ever, which is why her friend Marina is staging an intervention. Beth needs to take a break—and that means letting someone else organize the PTA’s upcoming eightieth-anniversary event.

But when Cookie Van Doorne, one of the event speakers, dies of suspicious causes, Beth decides to make an intervention of her own to find out what happened. When she discovers that Cookie was poisoned, the next order of business is catching a killer whose break is almost over.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Beth finds it hard to say no to anything. Running her bookstore, being a single parent,  and PTA president fills most of her time but now she has added organizing the anniversary event for the PTA. Her friends see she has taken on too much and stage an intervention. From taking over meals to organizing the PTA event, they are taking over to give her a much needed break. She has a hard time accepting it but finally agrees to their plans. She has a little extra time for herself until one of the event speakers dies a few days after the program. Beth then finds herself intervening in the suspicious death investigation. Poison is found to be the murder weapon and Beth hopes to break the case before her little break from her full life ends.

I knew when I started this book it was the final book in the series, something the author didn’t know when writing it. It is set in Wisconsin and I really enjoyed the other books in  the series and for the life of me I don’t know why I didn’t read it right when it came out. A recent To-Be-Read Shelf reorganization unearthed it along with a few others I will need to read soon.

In this installment the author uses a poison each of us probably has in our homes right now, Acetaminophen. I had no idea how easy it would be to overdose on this over the counter drug. In fact because the drug is so common, suicide is even debated before the death was classified as a murder. Yes, that trigger for me again, but I knew there had to be more to the story so I plunged right on. I was not disappointed and the prospect of using something so common meant anyone could be a suspect.

I love these characters because they are so real, they remind me of people I know. They have families and common struggles and shared joys. They don’t always get along. They have their ups and their downs. And they come together to help when a friend needs them most, like they did for Beth. True friendships, a real small town feeling. The story is set in Rynwood, Wisconsin, a small town outside the capital of Madison, very much like my hometown. Beth has two children and they both have typical things happening in their lives and Beth handles both in a very common sense way eventually. Parenting is hard work and the answers are not always glaring you write in the face. I knew exactly what she was feeling after raising 4 kids of my own with very similar issues.

I think the reason I loved this series so much as it reminded me of my own life, without the murders, of course. Until my accident, I worked full time, my husband had a job where his work hours shifted every two weeks, so I felt like a single parent much of the time. I was involved with everything going on at the school, again 4 kids, each doing their own thing, all in a town of about 1000 people.

It is sad that this is my last escape to Rynwood and it is hard to say goodbye to Beth, Marina, Jenna, Oliver, Lois, Flossie and Paoze, but I know the author has moved on to other stories. Stories that I have and will enjoy in the future. She did finish the series out with a PERFECT ESCAPE!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Laura Alden is also Laurie Cass. She co-wrote Dead, Bath, and Beyond with Lorraine Bartlett.  It was just released this month. She also writes the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries. Check out her webpage here for more info. 

I am giving away my copy of Poison at the PTA!
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.

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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.”

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

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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.

Nov 042016
 

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.
Set in Wisconsin, so close I wish I could visit today!!

five-alarm-fudge
Five-Alarm Fudge: A Fudge Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
An Obsidian Mystery (April 7, 2015)
Published by New American Library
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451416490
E-Book ASIN: B00MNN7GEK
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

In the newest Fudge Shop Mystery from the national bestselling author of Hot Fudge Frame-Up, Ava Oosterling is after a recipe to kill for…

It’s autumn in Fishers’ Harbor, Wisconsin, and fudge shop owner Ava Oosterling is busy preparing for the harvest festival and a visit from some royal relatives who live in Belgium. According to Ava’s grandpa, a famous divinity fudge recipe from the 1860s is hidden somewhere in a local historical church—a treat fit for a prince.

But when a fire in the church reveals the body of a murdered man, it looks like someone is willing to go to any length to possess the valuable secret to the divinity fudge. As Ava searches for the killer—and the recipe—she could use a little divine intervention, because she may have bitten off more than she can chew…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

There is something to do in Door County, Wisconsin year round but the fall when the leaves are changing is one of my favorite times.

In the fictional Fishers’ Harbor everyone is getting  ready for the Harvest Festival and this year is extra special because some royal relatives are coming to town. Ava’S grandfather has promised the special guestS some Divinity Fudge made from a very old recipe. The problem is no one has the recipe but he believes it is hidden in an old church, so Ava and her friends are frantically searching every nook and cranny.  There search is thwarted when a dead body is found and the church becomes a crime scene.

This was another fun mystery from this author. As she describes places I have actually visited it just warms my heart. If you haven’t visited Door County, don’t worry her descriptions will paint vivid pictures in your mind. From Ava’s roadside stand to Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer  to the restaurant in Sister’s Bay where goats graze on the roof from May through October you will be taken there and maybe will want to plan a vacation to really visit not only the places but the fudge and the cherries and all the other good things the area has to offer.

The fictional place has had several murders of late. The victim this time is a scientist doing research about chemicals being used in the fields that may be migrating to organic fields, gardens and into the water. He is found dead in a church and there are plenty of suspects. Was it someone searching for the recipe? or did someone else decide this man had to die? The author gives us a plethora of twists and turns that kept me guessing right up until the end. She also packed in some very scary scenes, including a fire that almost brought tears to my eyes.

I love the characters Ms. DeSmet has created. A family that pulls together not only in good times but in stressful times. Ava is a great protagonist, her grandparents help her run the fudge and bait shop with 1 other employee. Of course the ladies from the church are always ready to step in at a moment’s notice. Ava’s parents have a dairy farm so she has fresh ingredients for her fudge. The entire cast of characters are all unique and very engaging.

Just a word of warning, you will be craving fudge, fudge and more fudge while you are reading this story. Thankfully there are recipes in the back of the book including the newest Fairy Tale Fudge, Red Riding Hood Fairy Tale Fudge to be exact.

Christine DeSmet packs her mysteries full of wonderful characters, perfect amounts of humor and romance, all set in a fantastic place. The plot moves quickly and the end comes much too soon. These virtual escapes just make me want more. I hope there is another Fudge Shop Mystery headed my way soon, because you can never have too much fudge… and fudge is even more delectable wrapped with mystery and intrigue.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Christine DeSmet author picAbout The Author
Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She’s also an award-winning scriptwriter and teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies where she directs the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. You can find her on Facebook or at her website, www.ChristineDeSmet.com.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away my review 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

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

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 November 18, 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.”

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
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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.

Aug 182016
 

I Spotlighted this book back on May 28 and so happy I finally was able to read it!

on the chopping block
On the Chopping Block (A Callie’s Kitchen Mystery)
1st in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Wisconsin
Self Published
Release Date – May 24, 2016
Print Length: 228 pages
ASIN: B01EQIJ8UO
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Greek-American food business owner 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 pet 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.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As soon as I saw this book was set in Wisconsin I added it to my reading list. I also love watching the show Chopped in all its forms on the Food Network, so knowing a Chopped type competition was a catalyst in this story didn’t hurt either. I wish the actual contest had been part of the story.

Callie Costas was raised by her father and was expected to take over his restaurant when he retired, but she decided to venture out on her own and open “Callie’s Kitchen”. Her business was doing o.k. but if she had won the local Chopped Challenge she would have been able to add more staff and upgrade a few things. Her divorce was amicable for the most part, and her daughter is growing up fast. She also has a little Yorkie to snuggle with, but maybe it was time to start dating and find a man to snuggle up with. Enter Drew, another restaurant owner, and winner of the Chopped contest. They finally have time for a real date – at his house – with him cooking her dinner – to celebrate his win. She never thought the night would be ruined by a murder and her being in a detective’s sights as a prime suspect. Before anyone else gets CHOPPED, including herself, she is going to start her own search for the killer.

This was a fun read for me on so many levels. My parents used to run a restaurant much like Callie’s and the first thing I noticed was that girl needs more staff, especially if she is going to leave so much on her “errands”. Max is a great worker but they are going to burn themselves out quickly. The food they make, especially the little coffee cakes, almost had me drooling all over my Kindle.

The characters were all very realistic. Even Detective Sands with his yummy British accent. Callie is surrounded by people that love her and want her to succeed even as her business dwindles because she is suspected of murder. I really like that she is a woman my age and following her dreams. All of the characters are very well developed and engaging but I know there is so much more to tell. I want to get to know them better.

Wisconsin is beautiful in the fall and fictional Crystal Bay, said to somewhere in the Lake Geneva area, is wonderfully portrayed.  The leaves changing their color, the weather getting cooler, a time that is already getting to close to happening in real life here this year. I am a summer girl at heart.

The mystery went in a whole different direction that I had not expected and when I saw where it was headed I thought I had it pinned down to one or two individuals. It all came together for me before it did for Callie, but that big climatic scene when she figured it out had me on the edge of my seat. After that story ended by putting a huge smile on my face.

This series is off to an excellent start. While I hate to see the crime rate of Crystal Bay rise, I can’t wait to return there for another visit soon.

enjoyable 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

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I will give away 2 copies or 2 gift cards for $2.99 if the price rises higher than that!

Prize will be sent directly from Amazon!  

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
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 September 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.”

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.”

Jul 052016
 

little girl gone

Little Girl Gone (An Afton Tangler Thriller)
Suspense/Thriller
Setting – Minnesota/Wisconsin
Berkley
An Imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC
Release Date – July 5, 2016
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425281765
E-Book ASIN: B016JPTML2
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In the first Afton Tangler thriller, the unforgiving cold of a Minnesota winter hides the truth behind an even more chilling crime…
 
On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.

But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated.  Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

Author Gerry Schmitt is also known as cozy mystery writer, Laura Childs. Warning – this is not a cozy mystery! 

The story opens with Marjorie Sorenson at a doll show selling her “reborn dolls” (definitely not something I would buy). When Susan Darden shows her interest in the dolls she never could have imagined the terror that would follow.

Afton Tangler is a family liaison officer. She is assigned to a child abduction case, Susan and Richard Darden’s case. It turns out to be a difficult case and she works very closely with Detective  Max Montgomery and the FBI to find the baby and the kidnapper/s.

I was drawn into this book immediately. The story is told from multiple points of view and for me this made the story exciting and fast paced.

I liked our introduction to Afton. She is a divorced mom, raising her two daughters, who just happened to receive some impressive vehicles as part of her settlement. She is an intelligent woman with a stick to it attitude. She and Detective Montgomery work so well together. Afton hopes to be a detective someday and working with Max may be help speed up the process. I really enjoyed the way the investigated this case and followed the leads. Sometimes into very dangerous situations. The chief of police did give them a lot of leeway in this case leading me to think he knows more about Afton that we readers do at this point. I am anxious to see where these characters go in the future and excited to learn about their families and any past they may have.

The story does have a very creepy start and Marjorie is a really creepy person and so is her son. They really did make my skin crawl. After the first chapters it turns into more of a police procedural story but they are revisited throughout the whole book.

All of the characters are well written and realistic from the Dardens to their teenage babysitter and the other officers and agents. Even the over the top, pushy reporter, seemed just like a Fox broadcaster.

I loved that the story starts in Minnesota and that clues lead them to Wisconsin, and the way the law enforcement agencies worked together.

The author is off to a great start for this series. The main characters are engaging and the story was interesting with a edge of your seat ending.  I am looking forward to book #2.

enjoyable 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the Afton Tangler Thrillers, and, writing under the pseudonym Laura Childs, the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five novels, the Tea Shop, Scrapbooking, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, travel, and their two Shar-Pei dogs.

Written as Laura Childs



Click on covers to go to Amazon for more information or to order.

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.

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 July 19, 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

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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
goodreads-badge-add-plus

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

Facials Can Be Fatal (A Bad Hair Day Mystery) by Nancy J. CohenBuy Now
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