Nov 172017
 


This is a very special Flashback Friday.
This is one of my favorite series!
The mass market paperback of The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha was released this month
and JoAnna Carl has dropped by for a visit.

Guest Post By JoAnna Carl
(Provided by Publicist)

Now and then I get an invitation to speak, and I nearly always pick the topic “Fun with Research.”

That’s because I think research is truly important to the mystery story, and because I always have fun doing it. Especially doing research about chocolate.

The part about research being important to the mystery story is easy to see. If the clues and the background in a mystery are not accurate, the whole thing becomes unbelievable, and nobody wants to read it.

The part about research being fun results from of my usual method of finding things out. I just ask somebody. I find somebody who knows and ask them. Talking to people is always fun.

I’ve never had anybody refuse to answer a question. I’ll admit that I often pick the subjects for clues in my books because I know someone who will help me out.

This research method led to the creation of the Chocoholic books. An editor asked me to write a proposal for a cozy, and the coziest background I could think of was chocolate. Besides, I just happened to have a daughter who was working for a chocolate company. Duh? Who else can you call at ten o’clock at night and ask the melting point of chocolate?

The editor also liked the idea. Then one problem arose. The Chocoholic books were classified as “Culinary” mysteries, and Culinary mysteries usually have recipes. But my editor and I thought the type of high quality chocolate in the books was not ideal for the typical household cook. The editor suggested “Lore” instead – interesting facts about chocolate.

And when it came to writing the “Lore” parts of the Chocoholic books – well, my talented and practical daughter wasn’t going to cut it even if she was in the chocolate business. I had to find somebody with more authority than a bright and intelligent young woman who was basically a business manager. (If this seems familiar, it’s because my detective, Lee Woodyard, through sixteen books has held a job similar to the one my daughter had in those days. As a fictional character, by the way, Lee is not a lot like that particularly daughter, except that they’re both awfully nice people.)

So for Lore research I found I had to read books. I didn’t mind that. It gives me an excuse to learn about one of my favorite topics: chocolate. Its history and science are fascinating.

The Spanish explored the New World looking for gold, for example, but chocolate may have eventually been a more valuable find.

Of course, in those days the chocolate bar had not been invented. Chocolate was only a drink. One tale that I find interesting is that in Spain young women began to have their maids bring them chocolate during mass, since drinking it was recommended to fight feelings of weakness. (We all know how weak a young girl can feel in church.) When a priest who opposed this practice died under mysterious circumstances, scandal ensued.

Now there’s a motive I definitely couldn’t think of on my own.

And for years churchmen argued over whether chocolate was a food or a drink. Could it be drunk during Lent?

Another religious group involved with chocolate was the Quakers. A bunch of English businessmen, all Quakers, supported early efforts to mechanize the manufacture of chocolate and were prominent in its manufacture and sale. They demanded a high moral code for their industry, even insisting on good treatment for workers in the tropical countries where chocolate was grown. Today’s Fair Trade movement probably thinks it came up with something new, but those Quaker businessmen had the same basic idea.

In England, one of the group, Cadbury’s, even established a model town to house its workers. Interestingly, Milton Hershey did the same thing during the next century in Pennsylvania. Who would have thought that chocolate could be linked to a social conscience?

A lot of the people of chocolate history are fascinating, from the Marquis de Sade to Forrest Mars. Cardinal Richelieu is even sometimes given credit for introducing chocolate to France. Yes, that was the guy who according to the novelist Dumas gave so much trouble to Anne of Austria and the Three Musketeers. The cardinal supposedly drank chocolate for medicinal reasons.

The science of chocolate has an interesting history as well. For several centuries chocolate was promoted as a medicine or an aid to good health.

Even today chocolate has been cited as being good for lowering blood pressure, for example. As for the sugar that often accompanies chocolate – well, it gets a different report.

Joe and Teresa Graedon, who write The Peoples Pharmacy column carried by many newspapers, offer a pamphlet on the health benefits and threats of chocolate – including recipes – that even a scientific dummy like me can understand.

For the history of chocolate my main source is The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe.

But researching chocolate is fascinating to me, and not just because I’m an absolute freak for the stuff. Writing about it gives me a built-in excuse to visit any chocolate shop I pass. There’s the one in Washington D.C. where I first saw chocolate-covered bacon. There’s the chocolate garden in Michigan, with chocolate-colored plants. There’s the store in Lawton, Oklahoma, that stocks every kind of old-fashioned chocolate bar. And I get a specialty catalog that even offers Walnettos. You have to be old – like me – to remember Walnettos. They’re not chocolate, but still good. And they take me right back to my childhood.

I may have to quit writing and go buy myself a Cherry Mash.

Yum, yum!

~Joanna

Thank you JoAnna for visiting today!

I reviewed the hardcover version of this book last year.

the-chocolate-bunny-brouhaha
The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha
(Chocoholic Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
16th in Series
Setting – Michigan
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by Berkley (November 1, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Hardcover: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451473820
E-Book ASIN: B01BK0SQEU
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

 

From the national bestselling author of The Chocolate Falcon Fraud comes an Easter candy caper featuring chocolatiers Lee Woodyard and her Aunt Nettie, and a killer who’s hopping mad…

The approach of Easter means a rush of business at TenHuis Chocolade, and Lee  and her Aunt Nettie need all the help they can get to make their famous chocolate bunnies. Unfortunately, new hire Bunny Birdsong is a clutzy basketcase dropping everything she picks up. But to Lee’s surprise, she’s a whiz with computers and fixing the store’s website so they decide to keep her.

However, Bunny receives a few visitors they could do without: her soon to be ex-husband Beau, his wealthy aunt Abigail, and his new girlfriend and her brother all descend on the shop one day and have a bitter argument. Lee hopes they can find a peaceful way to settle their dispute and not bring any more trouble to TenHuis. But when Abigail’s body is discovered in the vacant store next door, it’s clear to Lee there’s a bad egg in her midst. Now she’s on the hunt to find out who it is…

Includes tasty chocolate trivia! 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

It’s all about the BUNNIES! TenHuis Chocolade is getting ready for Easter with plenty of bunnies on order. The also have a Bunny on the staff, Bunny Birdsong. She seems to be an accident looking for a place to happen, but she does have her talents and Lee finally finds out what those are. Both are surprised when her ex’s aunt shows up at the shop, soon followed by the ex himself with his new girlfriend. A little drama in the sales area that Lee quickly tries to handle. When the aunt becomes the latest murder victim in Warner Pier it isn’t good for “anybunny”. Disruption in the shop has everyone on edge and Bunny on the top of the suspect list means Lee has a basket full of trouble. She is hopping into the investigation to find the real killer so everyone can get back to making all those tasty holiday chocolates we all love.

This is a perfect “EGGSCAPE”. My senses skipped right over Christmas to spring and Easter the minute I started reading. The expansion of TenHuis Chocolade continues with just a little pause for the police to collect their evidence. Lee and her Aunt Nettie are doing their best to keep all the workers and employees focused on their jobs while they and Police Chief Hogan focus on the murder.

JoAnna Carl’s stories never disappoint. I jump right in and they brighten my day. I love the characters, I love the setting and I love the chocolate! Don’t let the number of pages in this book fool you. It is a fantastic cozy mystery that will have you laughing out loud and then on the edge of your seat. So well written and plotted precisely, it has an excellent flow. Family, romance, humor, mystery, everything in the right proportions. Ms. Carl tells a top-notch story. I also enjoy the trivia she includes throughout the book.

Think this series is too far along to jump into, it’s not. The author gives you enough detail without revealing or spoiling anything from previous books in the series. Try one and you are going to want to read them all. You just may want to have some chocolate in the house because this book will have you craving a truffle or 2.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about JoAnna Carl visit her webpage here.

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Nov 152017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am excited to have Wendy Tyson here to visit today!
Her latest book Seeds of Revenge was released yesterday!

Escape with Dollycas

By Wendy Tyson

 

One of my earliest memories as a child involved a trip to the Pennsylvania countryside. I was about three or four years old, and my parents took me and my brother to visit friends in the mountains. We drove to their farmhouse in the evening, and when we arrived it was late. I remember a collage of sensations: cold air against my skin, an endless sky, a cozy bedroom, the soft fur of their cat, and a warm bed with a thick quilt and coverlet. I can’t tell you much else about that visit beyond how it made me feel, but for some reason the experience stayed with me.

It was only recently that I realized I’d recreated some of that feeling in our new home, a chalet in Vermont’s Green Mountains. The house is tiny by today’s standards, but cozy, and the living room looks out on a deck and the mountains beyond. We keep the house cool, but I’ve dressed the beds with heavy quilts—the weight of the blankets is somehow a comfort. At night when I walk the dogs, my senses are assaulted by the scents and sounds of the surrounding woods.

In the spring, the peeper frogs chirp in an amphibian chorus, and coyotes, owls, turkeys, and bullfrogs are often heard in the summer and fall through our open windows. Winter is dead quiet, except for the wind and occasional freezing rain/sleet pelting the metal roof—but the view of the snow carpeting the countryside? Breathtaking. The biggest delight of all may be the night sky. We’re treated to a blanket of stars on clear nights, and sometimes my family and I will spend hours outside, identifying constellations and enjoying the peace.

The house is a favorite place to write. When it’s cold outside (or buggy), I pull the table in front of the window and write on my laptop, but in the summer (once the black flies are gone), I write outside, either on the deck or at a table under a tree in the woods. I prefer a view when I write. Maybe it’s the series I’m working on, but the connection to nature helps me think.

In some way I’ve created a similar retreat with my Greenhouse mysteries—Washington Acres Farm. Megan and her grandmother Bibi—along with two dogs, two goats, a barn cat, and a brood of chickens—live in the Pennsylvania countryside, in an old farmhouse, surrounded by woods. The kitchen is an amalgamation of the kitchens I grew up in, especially those of my grandmothers. It’s not modern or flashy. The cabinets are old, built by Megan’s grandfather in his workshop. There’s no island or high-end appliances. Instead, a beat-up farm table functions as workspace and an eating area. The gas stove is old but reliable, and the double farmhouse sink is often filled with fresh vegetables from the farm waiting to be simmered or stewed or steamed.

The Washington Acres farm kitchen is a place to congregate and talk. Tough discussions are had there. And often it’s the place the pieces of a mystery come together.

Megan, a military widow and former Chicago environmental lawyer, returns to the fictional town of Winsome and her grandmother’s farm when in her early thirties, at the behest of her father, who needed Megan to stay with her grandmother. But as with many homecomings, Megan’s return to Winsome is as much a salve to her own emotional wounds as it is a help to Bibi. Megan finds healing in that kitchen, in the drafty bedrooms, within the walls of the old barn, and along the forest trails.

My mother and I discussed my early childhood memory recently. She was surprised the trip made such an impression. We only stayed at the farmhouse for one night, and by the time we arrived it was late, so she and my father put my baby brother and me to bed. It was cold outside, she said, and the house was drafty and large. She didn’t recall a cat. I slept in a room with a handmade quilt, and the next morning we had pancakes in the big working kitchen.

“You may be transferring some of your experiences from your grandmothers’ houses onto that trip,” my mom suggested. “You always like to spend time with your grandparents.”

Maybe she’s right. Maybe it was the elusive nature of such an early memory that had an indelible effect on me. Or maybe it was reinforced by the trips I would take later in life. Regardless of the why, now that I’m older and have lost so many people who were dear to me, I’m grateful I could recreate that sense of cozy in my Vermont home, and equally grateful to spend time in Washington Acres with Megan and Bibi.

I hope readers enjoy it there, too.

~Wendy

Thanks for visiting Wendy, I love this post! 

Now let me tell you what I think of her new book. It is a Fantastic Escape!


Seeds of Revenge (A Greenhouse Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Henery Press (November 14, 2017)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635112757
Kindle ASIN: B07519T827

 

 

 

It’s time to cuddle up with a holiday whodunit. Smell the crisp pines and baking cranberries as you sip your hot apple cider. It may be the season, but the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly.

Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. So much so that she braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs.

And then she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road.

But this woman is no stranger to Winsome. It’s Becca Fox. A love chemist (you read that right). She’s headed to her aunt’s house to sell her love potions at holiday events.

Or so Becca thinks.

Her sneaky aunt only invited Becca home to reunite her with her estranged father. It sounds noble and kind-hearted, until the man ends up dead.

Megan soon finds herself in the middle. She realizes Becca’s not the only one getting iced over. Megan’s own aunt, the famous mystery author, is dragged into the drama. Her novels implicate her and she’s in trouble.

Now it’s personal. Our Megan must follow a cryptic trail of literary clues, all while sifting through the victim’s sordid past. She gets closer to the truth as the murderer gets closer to her.

How’s that for a ho ho ho? Don’t let your fresh apple crisp burn in the oven because you’re lost in this holiday homicide.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The “seeds of revenge” are planted deep within this mystery. Megan Sawyer, being the good person she is rescues a stranded motorist in the middle of a blizzard. She delivers Becca Fox right to her aunt’s door. Becca plans to sell her “love potions” at her aunt’s nursery over the holidays. Things are frosty upon her arrival as she meets her father, the man she holds responsible for her mother’s death, on her aunt’s front porch. Becca is upset about the collusion between the two. Megan finds herself in icy straights when the man is found dead. Not only is Becca a suspect but in a remarkable twist so is her own aunt, the famous mystery author. Megan has no choice but the dig in to the investigation putting herself on the killer’s hit list. It doesn’t matter if she has been naughty or nice, this could be her last Christmas in Winsome.

I have heard of love potions including the famous Love Potion #9, but I had never heard of a Love Chemist. Becca Fox has an interesting little business but she has hasn’t had it easy since her mother died. She believes her father killed her mother and she has not had anything to do with him since. She has a brother but he does not hold the same beliefs about their father. Megan is drawn to her and so was I. Becca is a complicated character and Ms. Tyson has really brought her to life in this story.

Bibi, Megan’s grandmother, reminds me so much of my own grandmother and mother. A hard working woman determined to get to the truth no matter what. She is also one to not hold her tongue. She will tell you her opinions and thoughts on virtually any subject as woman of that generation tends to do. She warms my heart.

I also love Scottish vet, Daniel “Denver” Finn and the direction of his relationship with Megan. It is fun to see this relationship grow.

The pacing of this book is different. I felt the story was unfolding at a comfortable pace, the clues were being uncovered and I was right there with Megan the entire way, engaged and captivated. The ending was a total surprise. Then I looked up and realized I had read the entire book in one sitting and faster than I had read a book in a very long time. Truly is was a fast pace story but not once did anything feel rushed or glossed over. The author delivered a truly fantastic read.  I never once looked for a stopping place or even thought about putting the book down.

The characters are well defined and the mystery was exceptional. A cozy mystery with a bit of an edge and I loved it!! It was a trip to Paradise, a chilly escape in the winter but Paradise nonetheless.

You will want to start this series from the beginning and get to know the characters from the start. I am anxiously awaiting and excited for my next trip to Winsome.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

wendy

About The Author

Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy’s latest novel, DYING BRAND, the third Allison Campbell mystery, was released in May 2015. The first Campbell novel, KILLER IMAGE, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of The Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first, A MUDDIED MURDER, was released last year, Bitter Harvest was released today. Wendy and her husband are passionate organic gardeners. They live with their three boys and three dogs on a micro-farm just outside of Philadelphia.

 

Author Links

Author website    Facebook     Goodreads 

Twitter: @WendyTyson    Pinterest: Greenhouse Mystery Series


Also by Wendy Tyson

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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 132017
 

I am so happy to have Lesley Cookman drop by for a visit
to start her Great Escapes Book Tour! 

 

Hi Lori, and thank you for having me. I’m a British author writing in what is now known as the “cosy” genre, but what, when I started, was simply known as Murder Mystery – or even simpler – crime. That is, here in the UK it was. I love the Golden Age crime writers, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham, your own John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson and Rex Stout, although several of them carried on well after the so called Golden Age. Sadly, I’ve never particularly admired Dame Agatha, which is no doubt a terrible failing!

The thing I realised I liked about series novels was the fact that I got to know the characters. So when it came to writing the second in the series, I knew I had to include several of those characters who had appeared in the first. Gradually, I assembled a whole cast, a lot of whom appear in all the books. Over the course of 18 books and some short stories, readers have developed favourites and regularly tell me what I’ve done wrong with them, or even say “So-and-so would never do that!” At least one of the men in the books has a queue of women waiting to marry him. And they really do not want him to get married!

I have created a whole area for the books, just south of Canterbury, Kent, UK. I have villages, towns and a lot of pubs. I have a map of my main village, where my eponymous heroine, Libby Sarjeant, lives, in the front of every book and on my website, and on my office wall a map of the area with all the villages, and a map of the little town on the coast. If I didn’t I might forget where things were supposed to be. I have loved creating this world, to the extent that when, a few years ago, I started a second series set in the Edwardian era, I already had a setting for it – same place!

Of course, this gives you a few problems. Readers invest in your characters – you can’t kill anyone off. I did allow one older person to die, and received rather a lot of complaints and earnest requests not to kill off any of the cats. In an upcoming short, entitled Murder Most Fowl, I’ve been silly enough to introduce a dog, who, if I allow him to stay, will no doubt become the readers’ best friend.

This, of course, doesn’t apply to the victims of the murders, or the murderers. So they can never be regular characters, and they have to be unlikeable. I learnt this very early on when, in the first book, my publisher told me that the murderer was too nice, and I had to go back and ADD a character.

I know in the US cosy series there is often a theme, or a hobby which introduces the heroine to each murder. The only thing my heroine does is help run the local Oast Theatre, as an ex-professional actor herself. Her best friend Fran is also an ex-actor, so there is an occasional theatrical theme to the books, but not all of them.

All in all, I’m very glad I invented Libby Sarjeant and her world. I enjoy retreating there, and I can’t think of a better way of earning a living.

~Lesley

Thank you Lesley for stopping by today!

About the Author

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign.  The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd.   Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

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Murder by the Barrel (A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Series)
by Lesley Cookman


Murder by the Barrel (A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
Accent Press Ltd (October 5, 2017)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1786152947
E-BOOK ASIN: B073ZJLL56

A new title in the popular cosy crime series by bestselling author Lesley Cookman

When the sleepy village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant to solve the puzzle.

Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?

 

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November 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

November 13 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Varietats – REVIEW

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November 15 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

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Nov 082017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I love this series, so I love it when Kate visits! 

When Is “Fake” Okay?

by Kate Carlisle
Post provided by Publicist

Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of the Fixer-Upper Mysteries, featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors’ closets, but murder victims, too. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is bringing the Fixer-Upper Mysteries to TV in a series of movies starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson. Visit Kate online at www.KateCarlisle.com.

Everyone in the homebuilding industry has run into a snob a time or two, I’m sure. My dad would bring home stories that made all of us roll our eyes. Like the gold-plated toilet handle.

Seriously???

In my latest Fixer-Upper Mystery, Eaves of Destruction, contractor Shannon Hammer has been hired by rival neighbors to beautify their homes for the hotly contested title of Best of Show in the annual Victorian Home and Garden Tour. One client is outraged when Shannon suggests they buy wood onlays to replace carved panels.

Petsy shook her head in disbelief. “But these things are . . . why, they’re . . . they’re fake!”

I was about to laugh—until I got a better look at her horrified expression. “Let me assure you that this is a perfectly acceptable way of creating the look you want. The pieces are manufactured in England.”

I covertly rolled my eyes as I said the words. As if something coming from England made it more legitimate? But for some people, that fact made all the difference.

To show you just how foolish Petsy’s snobbery is, here’s an example of a beautiful onlay from ArchitecturalDepot.com.

Many onlays are carved from wood—real wood—so there’s nothing fake about them. They’re simply made. . . elsewhere. And, by the way, as Shannon points out in the book, people in Victorian times used onlays all the time!

That got me thinking—when else is “fake” okay?

Hair Color

Honestly, I’ve been blond so long that at this point, my natural color would feel fake.


Who is that strange woman?

3D Printed Tools

Did you know that the international space station has a 3D printer? So now if astronauts break or lose a tool, they can print another—even tools with moving parts! (I swear, we live in the future.)

Prosthetic Limbs

The advances in prosthetics have been jaw-dropping. It’s so heartening that loss of a leg—or even both legs—no longer means a person is facing a life of severely limited mobility. It’s still not something anyone would choose, but wow, what a difference prosthetics have made!

Can you think of any other examples of when “fake” is okay?

~Kate

Thank you so much for visiting today Kate! 

Eaves of Destruction
(A Fixer-Upper Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – California
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (November 7, 2017)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0399586460
Kindle ASIN: B06VTV6Q1G

 

 

Murder is on the to-do list when construction contractor Shannon Hammer looks for a killer in the fifth Fixer-Upper Mystery….

At the annual Victorian Home and Garden Tour, Lighthouse Cove, California’s premier contractor, Shannon Hammer, realizes that the competition is about to turn deadly….

Shannon is in high demand among rival homeowners, who will do anything to win Best in Show. One-upmanship and even espionage break out among neighbors, construction crews, decorators, and landscapers. Thanks to several new hires, Shannon is sure she can handle the extra load—until murder throws a wrench in the works.

The small town’s corrupt building inspector is found dead on one of Shannon’s jobsites, and soon plenty of suspects are coming out of the woodwork. When another body is discovered, Shannon calls on her team of close friends and devilishly astute thriller writer Mac to help her nail down the details and build a case against the killer before the door shuts on someone else—for good.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Lighthouse Cove is getting ready for the Victorian Home and Garden Tour and everyone wants to have a little work done in hopes of coming in 1st this year. No one wants to win more than Petsy Jorgensen. Her neighbor won last year so she is pulling out all the stops with some delicate work inside the house and adding an orangery onto the house as well. Petsy is a “difficult” client but Shannon feels the home is a real “gem” and she really wants this job. She has several works in progress so he has hired a new carpenter to help with all the work the Home and Garden tour is bringing to her company, especially the detailed work for the Jorgensens.

Work at all the sites is on schedule until the town’s building inspector is found dead at one of them. Joe Scully has been a thorn in Shannon’s side since she took over the construction business from her dad. He seemed to rub everyone in town the wrong way so building a case isn’t going to be easy. At least the police don’t think Shannon is a suspect. Still she teams up with her favorite thriller author Mac to see if together they can hammer out the details and close the case before more bodies start piling up on her jobsites.

This was a story with many, many layers, taking us on quite a historic tour of our own. The Jorgensen house has been in the family forever so it is easy to understand why the current caretakers would want it to be a showplace. But Petsy Jorgensen is all about winning the prize. She was a mean woman and hard not only on Shannon and her crew but to her family as well. Shannon didn’t like it but took it and kept her mouth shut for the most part. The author has given Shannon much more patience and focus than I would ever have. That being said this evil character is so well written and fleshed out, as are her husband and daughter. I got very emotional over the way Petsy talked to and treated her daughter.

I worked in construction for awhile so following Shannon around is extra fun for me. Her take on onlays and the work her carpenter did in the Jorgensen’s dining room was very interesting. For me, the building inspector was the perfect victim. Good ones are picky but corrupt ones like Joe Scully have no place in the building world, but sadly there are quite a few out there. While not a good idea in real life, having one killed in a fictional sense was pretty delightful.

All my favorite characters from previous book have returned and I love the way Shannon’s dad and her uncle are celebrating their retirement. Shannon and Mac’s relationship is strong and their dialogues are very real. The do make a great sleuth team. Shannon’s interactions with her crew are also very true to life.

As always the setting is divine, I love Victorian houses and all their little nooks and crannies and bonus spaces.

I really enjoyed the mystery. It was pretty fast paced with some very clever twists. It was very well thought out and with a fantastic ending.

I highly recommend the whole series!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Read more about Kate and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries at www.KateCarlisle.com!


Also by Kate Carlisle

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away. 

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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 022017
 

A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Setting – California
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683313410
Kindle ASIN: B06XWDWRLF

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to a magnificent (magnifique) start! Mimi Rousseau is living her dream of owning her own inn and bistro. She has collaborated with Bryan Baker for the financial backing needed for the purchase and the vast remodeling effort to get both places open. In fact, the story opens with Mimi and her staff getting reading to host it’s first wedding. Bryan’s niece, talk show host, Angelica Edmonton and her fiancé are excited to be married at the inn. Things start to go awry with Angelica’s father, Edison, arrives at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but when Bryan is found dead the next morning at the bistro with an éclair in his month, Mimi doesn’t think things can get any worse. Now her mentor is dead and she is a prime  suspect.

I have been looking forward to the book since I first saw the cover pop up on Facebook and it certainly exceeded my expectations. As a fan of the author’s Cheese Shop Mysteries and Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I knew the characters would be strong and the food descriptions would have my mouth watering and I was right.

Mimi Rousseau has a lot on her plate but I knew right away she could handle it. She is strong and savvy and has hired a top-notch staff. Chef C. and sous chef Stefan keep the kitchen under control while Heather runs the dining room. The inn, a fancy bed and breakfast, is managed by Mimi’s BFF, Jorianne. Mimi oversees everything from the menus and wine to all the events happening at the inn and bistro. All of the characters are very well defined for the first book in a series but there is plenty of room for them to grow. The secondary cast, the wedding party, family and friends, are also very well crafted. I was drawn right in to all of their drama.

The story was very fast paced with some corkscrew twists and more suspects than I at first set my sites on.  This author knows how to set the scene and have readers nibbling on each little clue as we follow Mimi in her investigation. The mystery is well plotted and so entertaining. I was enthralled from the first page until the last and then I wanted more.

Now let me talk about the food. Oh my! Thanks to the tantalizing descriptions I could almost taste and smell so many delightful dishes and even the unique flavors of the wine served.  I love onion soup so every time it was mentioned my cravings stepped up another notch. Daryl Wood Gerber does share some recipes in the back of the book including recipes for Chocolate Éclairs and Onion Soup Gratinée. Both have been copied into my recipes file.

I am really excited about this new series and can’t wait for book #2, A Soufflé of Suspicion, coming in July 2018.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

After reading about all that deliciousness in the book I am so happy Daryl is sharing recipes as part of her Great Escapes Tour. Be sure to visit each day to enjoy the full feast. 

Traveling Meal

Appetizer #2

Welcome back to the traveling feast.  I’m celebrating the upcoming release of the first French Bistro Mystery, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, by hostessing a traveling meal, one blog at a time. This way you can sample different foods…one day at a time.

Of course, I’m focusing on French-themed foods because my protagonist, Mimi Rousseau, would serve these kinds of items either at her bistro or at her home.  Mimi used to be a chef in San Francisco, but life took a turn, and she returned home to Nouvelle Vie, an enclave of Napa Valley, to start anew. Luckily, her benefactor gave her the opportunity to open her own bistro and bed-and-breakfast. Appetizers are an important feature in the bistro.

One can never have enough appetizers, right?

And champagne. It goes with everything. Ooh-la-la!  Enjoy.

Here’s a brief scene from A DEADLY ÉCLAIR:

*

As I bent to retrieve a basket, a woman screamed, “Mimi!”

My pulse skyrocketed. I spun around.

My best friend, Jo, the woman who had bravely tasted all my childhood cooking fiascoes, the woman who had introduced me to Bryan and who had given up her high-paying CPA job to manage Maison Rousseau, ran at me full tilt, arms waving. “Help! It’s horrible!”

*

Camembert Pear Appetizer

  • 1 8 oz. round of Camembert
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Bosc pear, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary (fresh, if you can, chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Remove the Camembert from the refrigerator and slice in half. Set aside.

Peel the Bosc pear. (It does not have to be completely ripe; may be firm)

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the pear and cook about 3-4 minutes, until the pear is tender. Add the rosemary and Triple Sec. Cook another minute.

Remove the pears from the pan.

Set one half of the Camembert, bloomy rind side down, on a pretty serving dish. Pour almost all of the pears (except 2 Tablespoons) on the bottom half of the Camembert.  Top with the other half of Camembert (bloomy rind on top). Top with the remaining pears.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey and cook about one to two minutes, letting the combination reduce. Pour over the cheese and pears. Serve immediately (if you can, but sometimes guests aren’t always on time). It’s lovely at room temperature, too.

 


From Daryl:

I’m offering a book giveaway (winner’s choice of 1 from my published paperbacks) every day of this traveling feast. To enter today, tell me—cheese platter or chips and dip in the comments ?

BY THE WAY, don’t miss out on the French Bistro-themed BOX I’m giving away on my Facebook Author page. Link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


About the Author

Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Author Links

Visit Daryl or Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Daryl’s Blog – Avery’s Blog – Mystery Lover’s Kitchen – Killer Characters –

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Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber

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November 1 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review, Recipe
November 2 –  Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review, Recipe
November 3 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Recipe
November 4 – A Holland Reads – Review, Recipe
November 5 – Jane Reads – Review, Recipe
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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 012017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am thrilled to welcome Richard back to Escape With Dollycas today and be the 1st stop on his Great Escapes Tour! 

My Many Merrie Christmases
by Richard Audry

In my newest mystery, Andy Skyberg and his crime-sniffing pooch King Harald end up snowbound at a resort that’s hosting a Holiday Faire. I had fun creating the list of vendors, packing their booths with tempting foodstuffs and merchandise for holiday giftgiving. With my head so much into Christmas festivities, I did some timetripping back to my younger holiday seasons.

My mother Merrie has been gone for quite a while. But I catch myself thinking about her almost every day. She was a great mother, a super wife (she and my dad were head-over-heels from beginning to end), a nurse anesthetist, and a stalwart friend to everyone she cared about. A fun, smart, classy lady who liked her smokes and her Martinis at the end of a busy day. For the most part, she didn’t have any hobbies. But there was one exception.

Merrie was a Christmas tree nut. She positively adored all the fuss and trappings that went with putting up a ceiling-scraping pine, spruce, or fir. And from my very earliest memories of her, I recall her ardently shopping for pretty and colorful decorations—from tinsel and those old classic Polish bulbs to novelty figures and commemorative decorations. She wouldn’t stop until the tree was pretty much totally encrusted with sparkly, glinty, colorful stuff.

A lot of the decorations she put up were, of course, commercial products. She was on the prowl all year round for Christmas tree ornaments in stores and catalogs. And every succeeding holiday season another dozen or so items would find their way onto the tree. When I was a teenager and older, I added to the trove by gifting her with gold-plated and silver Metropolitan Museum of Art snowflakes and stars. That became an annual tradition.

But the decorations she most treasured were the ones with personal meaning. My dad’s red bell that he bought when he was a kid. My pathetic little cardboard Christmas tree that I made in first or second grade.

Toward the end of her life, Merrie’s tree was truly a spectacular sight. I’m not simply being a loyal son when I say that I’ve rarely seen a more gorgeous Christmas tree. The photo here is of the decorations she (mostly) acquired.

After she was gone, the family tree was transferred from the apartment where she and my Dad had lived to our new house. For a couple of decades, my wife and I hauled out the ornament boxes in early December, assembled the artificial tree, and spent a few hours trimming it. Often, we’d invite friends or family to help, capping off the evening with a nice supper and holiday music.

Then one year my wife and I were going through an over-busy and over-stressed period and decided not to put the tree up—opting for a few choice decorations around the living room. And thus we dropped the Christmas tree ball, so to speak. We eventually sold the artificial tree at a yard sale, and stashed the ornament boxes away.

But lately, my Merrie’s old decorations, sitting in two big red boxes in the basement, seem to be calling to us. Maybe this year we’ll find a nice fir or spruce and adorn the branches with all of those wonderful ornaments my mother loved so much. We’ll have ourselves a “Merrie” Christmas once again.

~Richard

What a wonderful post Richard!!

Now let me tell you about his latest King Harald mystery! 

King Harald’s Snow Job (King Harald Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Minnesota
Conger Road Press (August 1, 2017)
Paperback: 302 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0985019686
E-Book ASIN: B0747QWYLZ

 

 

It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.

But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.

Mother Nature, though, has other plans. A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.

Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

King Harald is a very special canine, “part Chesapeake and part moose”. He stole my heart in the first book, The Karma of King Harald, and still holds his place two books later. In King Harald’s Snow Job. Andy and King Harald have a plan for their weekend that is blown away by a huge blizzard leaving them stuck at the Beaver Tail Resort. They are joined by a bunch of women at the resort for a Girls’ Out Weekend, an author debuting her new book, a crazy fan of the author, a hockey team, many stranded travelers, and a jewel THIEF! Unbeknownst to Andy, King Harald will play a key role in the return of the jewel. Maybe just in time for Andy to save just a little bit of his weekend plans.

Here is Wisconsin we know all about snow and blizzards that drop several unexpected inches so I can sympathize with Andy. At least her wasn’t trapped alone and the resort had plenty of food and drink available. Except his was pulled right into the investigation, something he had hoped to avoid.

Richard Audry has plowed Andy right into the middle of everything happening and takes us along for a delightful ride in mostly organized chaos. Andy arrives to help his Aunt Bev for just a few hours and he watches the snow just keep coming down. Of course, Harald loves the snow and does all he can when let outside to run and frolic and even take off on his merry way leaving Andy to venture out in the cold himself. Funny how dogs get their way leaving their persons behind. The author does fill the story with quite of bit of humor, some of it comes from getting Harald’s own point of view on several situations. Some are laugh out loud funny and also have me wondering just what my own dogs are thinking sometimes around here.

The good thing about investigating the jewel theft is that it is pretty safe to assume the culprit is trapped in the hotel like everyone else. The bad thing is that the theyr could be absolutely anyone trapped in the hotel. Several twists reveal things that start to eliminate suspects but the climatic reveal took me by surprise. Mr. Audry does an excellent job of snowing us readers and diverting our attention elsewhere until the end.

The characters that join Andy in this story are all unique and so well written. I could see each and every one clearly in my mind. The resort and the weather were aptly described too forming very clear visualizations. Again, I am very familiar with the weather, but I found myself reaching for a blanket soon after beginning this story and it really wasn’t chilly outside. 🙂

Mr. Audry is a wonderful storyteller. You will quickly find yourself immersed in this book and will have a difficult time putting in down. With winter coming fast this would be a fun book to read curled up by the fire.  Mystery, comedy, great characters, all in a setting full of snow, do add up to a perfect escape and one I highly recommend!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

 

About The Author –

Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. In addition to his career as a journalist and copywriter, D. R. has written a dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction. His current projects include a fantasy adventure trilogy, a canine cozy mystery series, and historical mysteries set at the turn of the last century.

Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/richardaudryauthor/

Webpage – http://drmartinbooks.com/

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS Please visit all the stops.

November 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY
November 2 –  Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 3 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
November 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
November 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
November 6 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
November 6 –  Queen of All She Reads  – SPOTLIGHT
November 6 –  View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
November 7 – Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf – REVIEW
November 7 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW
November 8 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
November 9 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
November 10 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
November 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
November 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

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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 182017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am super excited to have Miranda James drop by today! 

An Antebellum Kind of Murder

By Miranda James

 

I’m not entirely certain where my fascination with old houses – mansions, really – began. The house I grew up in was built for my parents and me, and I was about eighteen months old when we moved into it. Our house was small: two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, den, and living room with an attached carport. Nothing antebellum or mansion-like about it, but I loved growing up there.

Most likely, the fascination started with Nancy Drew – the same way my love of mysteries did. Nancy’s adventures thrilled me, and several of them take place in old houses, some of them antebellum mansions. The Hidden Staircase, The Sign of the Twisted Candles, and The Secret in the Old Attic feature settings that fit the bill. (Three of my favorite books in the series, by the way!) Every old dwelling has secrets to tell, and Nancy always managed to winkle them out.

I imagined what it would be like to live in a house that had multiple stories, features like turrets or secret rooms or hidden passages, and a long connection to the past. (I have always wanted a turret of my own but sadly I don’t think I’ll ever have one.)

Nancy got me started and later, when I discovered romantic suspense novels, many of those were set in mysterious castles or Elizabethan manors or Victorian mansions. I read as many as I could find, and one of my all-time favorites, Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters) wrote some wonderful books in which the houses were as important as the human characters in the story.

When I created the Ducote Sisters, who first appeared in Out of Circulation, the fourth Cat in the Stacks book, I made them owners of an antebellum mansion, Riverhill. An important scene in the book takes place at Riverhill, and I loved writing it. When the time came for the sisters to appear in their own series, I decided that each book would involve a grand old mansion of some sort. That holds true with Fixing to Die, the fourth book in the series. This time the setting is a house named Cliffwood, situated in Natchez, Mississippi – known as one of the most haunted towns in America.

Cliffwood is reputed to be haunted, like other antebellum mansions in Natchez, but Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce think human hands are at work making mischief. Will they be able to uncover the truth and unmask the villain? Or will they end up believing in ghosts before it’s all over?

~Miranda James

Thank you Miranda so much for visiting today! 

Find out all about Miranda on her books on her webpage here.


Fixing to Die (A Southern Ladies Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Release Date – October 3, 2017
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0399584770
Kindle ASIN: B01MU94DX6

 

 

It’s autumn down south, and An’gel and Dickce Ducote are in Natchez, Mississippi, at the request of Mary Turner Catlin, the granddaughter of an old friend. Mary and her husband, Henry Howard, live in Cliffwood, one of the beautiful antebellum homes for which Natchez is famous.

Odd things have been happening in the house for years, and the French Room in particular has become the focal point for spooky sensations. The Ducotes suspect the ghostly goings-on are caused by the living, but when a relative of the Catlins is found dead in the room, An’gel and Dickce must sift through a haunted family history to catch a killer.

More Books in this Series

Don’t Miss The Cat in The Stack Series



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Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Oct 112017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!! 

I am very excited to welcome Bethany Blake to Escape With Dollycas!

Hi Everyone,

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved three things: pets, books and cozy stuff.

For my 10-year-old self, the perfect day was rainy or snowy, just right for creating a blanket tent in the attic and retreating with a Nancy Drew novel and my dachshund, Greta.

Some things never change. As an adult, my house is filled with animals and books, and I recently traded my master bedroom for my daughter’s smaller room, even though I have to smoosh all my clothes into one tiny closet, while she gained a walk-in for her wardrobe.

Why did I make what seems like such a bad bargain?

Because small spaces are awesome – and my new room has a secluded alcove that I’m transforming into the adult version of that blanket tent.

My addiction to the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from being in the perfect, snug spot with your furry friends and your favorite stuff is why I started reading, and ultimately writing, cozy mysteries. I dreamed of creating a town filled with charming shops, cute cafés, and quirky characters. I suppose, when I set out to write the first Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery – Death by Chocolate Lab – I was conjuring up a vacation spot for my imagination.

If you open my books and “visit” Sylvan Creek – the pet-friendly setting for the Lucky Paws stories – you’ll find yourself spending time at Winding Hill, a lovely, restored 1800s farmhouse, complete with a tiny caretaker’s cottage. You’ll also visit Espresso Pronto, purveyor of hot coffee and homemade biscotti. And, while the locals crack crabs at the Lakeside – a dive bar on a rickety pier in Lake Wallapawakee – there’s fine dining at the Wolf Hollow Mill, a Revolutionary-War-era building with two fireplaces and a working mill wheel that spins against a stone wall.

The second book in the series, Dial Meow for Murder, is set during one of my favorite times of year: Halloween. You can probably guess that there will be autumn leaves, pumpkins, chilly nights spent by blazing fires, and maybe even a costumed pet parade through town.

 

Moxie’s Apartment

Lewisburg Hotel

 

 

The funny thing is, the “escape” I created is actually based upon my hometown of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. I used to live in the Victorian house that is the setting for Moxie Bloom’s garret apartment. The fictional pet boutique, Fetch!, is based upon a real shop. And the haunted mansion in Dial Meow is modeled after a spooky, hilltop estate called the Slifer House.

Slifer House

If you’re a fan of all things cozy, I hope you’ll join me in Sylvan Creek as pet sitter and amateur sleuth Daphne Templeton tries to solve a mystery in the mansion with the help of her sidekick, a taciturn basset hound named Socrates. (Daphne will also be navigating an increasingly complicated relationship with handsome, enigmatic Detective Jonathan Black.) So grab a copy of the book, put on your favorite toasty warm socks and pj’s, and curl up in your comfiest chair with your furry friend. We’re never too old to recreate that blanket tent we loved when we were 10 years old, right?

Happy fall, everyone!

~Bethany

Thank you Bethany for stopping by today! 

 


Dial Meow for Murder (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Kensington (September 26, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 342 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496707406
Kindle ASIN: B01MR1SVWX

 

 

Even an experienced pet sitter like Daphne Templeton can be fooled by animal behavior: how can an adorably tiny fuzz ball named Tinkleston be capable of sudden flying leaps with cat claws bared? But human behavior remains even more mysterious, especially when Tinkleston’s owner is murdered on the night of a gala fundraiser for Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue.

Accompanied by her unflappable basset hound, Socrates, Daphne plans to take charge of Tinks the Terror and leave the crime-solving to handsome detective Jonathan Black. But while luring the prickly Persian out of hiding, she uncovers clues that might take suspicion off her own mother. Maeve Templeton already has a reputation as a killer—in real estate. How far would she go to bag Sylvan Creek’s most coveted property, the Flynt Mansion?

To expose the truth, Daphne finds herself donning a deranged clown costume on an autumnal adventure that might just be crazy enough to work—if it doesn’t get her killed.

Includes recipes for homemade pet treats!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Daphne Templeton arrives at Flynt Mansion just a little late to set up for the Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue fundraiser but she and Socrates look darn good in their costumes. Wait, why isn’t anyone else wearing costumes? Daphne is going to kill  her sister, Piper, okay not actually kill her but scream at her maybe.

Some screaming does occur and there is a dead body, but it is not Piper. It is Lillian Flynt, owner of the mansion where the fundraiser is taking place. It is also a property their mother, Maeve, is trying to sell and she has a client willing the pay the huge asking price. Will the owner’s death halt the sale? Who killed the Lillian Flynt? The only witness appears to be a Persian cat named Tinkleston, and he is the crankiest cat Daphne has ever met. He definitely is not going to help Detective Jonathan Black find a killer. Heck! the detective even puts Maeve on the list of suspects. Daphne tries to stay out of the investigation but while trying to corral the kitty she uncovers an important clue and ends up in another costume to try to catch the mansion murderer.

Daphne is an excellent protagonist. She is a strong willed woman and not shy about getting her point across with the good detective. Her relationship with her mother is another story but Daphne is getting stronger at getting her point across with her too. Maeve is a pushy woman, that is what makes her a successful realtor, but she does get on both her daughter’s nerves. I get a kick of of Daphne’s BFF and her homages to actresses in classic films too.

Ms. Blake has written a twisty mystery with surprising developments. A family connection turns the case in a whole new direction. The deceased’s will provides more questions than answers and even included Daphne. Another surprise early in the story is the potential buyer of Flynt Mansion. Plenty of action to keep us readers entertained.

The author has given readers a first class story. Her descriptive details bring it to life. The characters are well fleshed out. The pace of the story builds throughout to an exciting ending. I found everything I want to find in a cozy mystery within the pages of this book. I am really excited Pawprints & Predicaments coming in February 2018. 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

 

 

ABOUT BETHANY BLAKE:

Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert.

Next time Bethany visits I want to hear all about her pets 🙂 

Website – Twitter  – Facebook

Subscribe to Bethany’s Newsletter here.

Coming February 27, 2018


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
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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.”

Sep 272017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am thrilled to welcome Eileen Watkins to Escape With Dollycas today. 

Her book The Persian Always Meows Twice was released yesterday! 

 

COZY WEDNESDAY BLOG POST

By Eileen Watkins, author of

The Persian Always Meows Twice,
A Cat Groomer Mystery

 

If you work at a fairly standard nine-to-five job, you’ve probably dreamed at times of escaping that routine. Not necessarily to give up working completely, but to be your own boss—to become an entrepreneur!

Ever notice how many amateur sleuths in cozy mysteries are entrepreneurs? Probably the main reason is so they can take off fairly easily to interview a suspect or follow up on a clue, without having to account to a boss and risk being fired for their unscheduled absences. But I think we mystery fans also enjoy living vicariously through these independent types. While you’re reading about a someone who runs a niche bookstore, raises emus or crafts stained glass windows for a living, you can fantasize about whatever job might satisfy your unconventional, creative side.

On the other hand, how many people do you know who make a decent living by running their own small businesses? The few who do generally put in long hours, struggle to balance the books and wear many hats. Succeeding as an entrepreneur is hard work, and in real life might not allow much time for solving murders. We happily accept this contradiction while we’re escaping into crime fiction.

Though I’m not above sugar-coating the entrepreneur’s life a bit myself in my new Cat Groomer series, I also wanted to ground it in reality. When I decided that my sleuth, Cassie McGlone, would operate a cat grooming service in a small town, I did some of the same research as if I were starting up the business for real.

First I wondered, can someone actually make a living as a cat groomer? As skeptical people tend to ask Cassie in my books, “Don’t cats groom themselves?”  Through online research and in-person interviews, I discovered that many cat breeds have special grooming requirements that could be hard for their owners to fill. Some longhairs, for example, develop stubborn mats that cause discomfort and can be tough to remove without special tools and training. Others types need frequent baths for their oily skins, or special handling for their curly, fragile coats. In addition, I learned, many professional pet groomers will not deal with cats at all because they’re considered too temperamental.

That was good news for Cassie. Her services would fill a definite need!

The most successful of the cat groomer I talked to, though, also ran a boarding business. She had a steady stream of customers because, she explained, many cats don’t do well in a mixed kennel. The sight, sounds and smells of dogs can make them nervous wrecks, and what owner back from vacation wants to pick up a traumatized cat? That insight helped me a lot. If Cassie did boarding as well as grooming at her shop, she’d have a chance of making a decent income.

Of course, every entrepreneur needs customers and will struggle if she sets up in the wrong location. I helped Cassie out by creating the fictional small town of Chadwick, N.J. It’s just historic and picturesque enough to attract well-off visitors from more urban areas, as well as new-money folks moving to the surrounding suburbs, all of whom might become potential customers.

Her choice of a career provides one other, important perk. As all of those sleuths working as bookstore owners, dog-walkers and hair stylists have discovered, when you come in contact with a steady stream of strangers it increases your chances of stumbling across the occasional dead body. Cassie quickly finds this out in my first Cat Groomer book, The Persian Always Meows Twice—she makes a house call to her wealthiest client and finds him murdered in his own study. The only witness is his Persian, Harpo, who doesn’t seem likely to give up any secrets…or could he? After Cassie agrees to board the cat temporarily at her shop, all at once several people seem awfully eager to get their hands on Harpo, maybe to “silence” him forever.

As Cassie’s business grows, of course, she will be kept hopping. The more boarders she has to care for and the more cats she has to groom, the less time she might have to muck around with murders. So, at the beginning of Persian, I let her hire a mature, level-headed assistant, Sara Wilcox. Of course, Sarah came prepared to deal with the occasional spitting Siamese or hissing Himalayan, but not homicidal humans. Now when Cassie gets embroiled in solving crimes, and sometimes sheltering feline “persons of interest” at her facility, she also has to worry about putting loyal Sarah in jeopardy.

You can see that, for Cassie, caring for other people’s cats isn’t all fluff. And if we looked closely at the lives of most entrepreneurs, we’d probably find they work as hard as, if not harder than, those of us with a “straight” jobs. Still, after the boss has once again barked at your for a mistake that wasn’t your fault, it’s always fun to daydream about striking out on your own!

Have you ever taken the leap and started your own business (other than writing)? How did it turn out? If you’ve never tried it so far, what would be your dream “entrepreneurial” career?

—Eileen

Thank you Eileen so much for visiting today! 

 


The Persian Always Meows Twice (A Cat Groomer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Jersey
Kensington (September 26, 2017)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496710567
Kindle ASIN: B01N0WN6UG

 

 

Cat lovers are thrilled to welcome an expert groomer to the picturesque town of Chadwick. But scratch below the surface, and unmasking a killer becomes a game of cat and mouse . . .

Professional cat grooming isn’t all fluff—when the fur starts flying, Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats, handles her feistiest four-legged clients with a caring touch and nerves of steel. While these qualities certainly help keep her business purring, they also come in handy when she makes a house call to her best client, millionaire George DeLeuw, and discovers his murdered body next to his newly orphaned Persian, Harpo.

To help the local police find the actual killer, Cassie begins her own investigation. But no one, from George’s housekeeper to his vindictive ex-wife, is giving up clues. Not until Cassie is given permission to temporarily board Harpo does anyone show interest in the Persian’s well being. Someone is desperate to get their paws on Harpo before the feline helps untangle a felony. Are there deadly truths that a cat whisperer like Cassie can coax out? She needs to tread lightly and remember she gets one life, not nine. . . .  

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have been excited about this book since I saw the cover on Amazon months ago and it was well worth the wait.

Our protagonist is Cassie McGlone, owner of Cassie’s Comfy Cats in Chadwick, New Jersey. She makes house calls for her top client, millionaire George DeLeuw, to groom his beautiful Persian, Harpo. When she arrives for her scheduled appointment she finds Harpo next to George’s dead body. The police are asking a lot of questions, even casting Cassie as a suspect. They are really getting nowhere until Cassie boards the furry feline at Comfy Cats and then several people become very interested in Harpo’s well being and go to great and dangerous lengths to get their hands on the pretty Persian.

I fell for the characters in this story immediately. Cassie, her friend Dawn, and her new employee Sarah are so well developed for the first book in this series. We also meet local veterinarian Mark who Cassie and I would both like to get to know better. The author also gives us a nice variety of suspects from the ex-wife, to the housekeeper, and more. Of course, they are some furry characters too, that I absolutely loved!

The plot has some really nice twists. I thought I had figured out a very important clue and was pretty proud of myself until I found out I was totally wrong.  The author manages to drop a key clue here and there as she tells us about cat grooming and Cassie’s life. There are also a couple of very suspenseful moments that had me sitting up straight in my chair and really paying attention. At first I didn’t think the story was fast paced until I reached the end and realized I had read the whole thing in one sitting. To say I escaped into the book is a true understatement.

I love the theme of the series as I am a cat lover, the characters are some I want to get to know better, and if future mysteries are this entertaining, Eileen Watkins will have a hit series on her hands. The Bengal Identity will be released March 27, 2018 and it is already on my wish list. 

A cat-ivating cozy for all cozy lovers but for true cat lovers this is a must read!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can find out more about Eileen Watkins and her book on her webpage here. You can also sign up on her mailing list there too. She is also on Facebook.


Click on covers to go to Amazon to purchase or add to your wish list.

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
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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.”

Sep 132017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am thrilled to have Dorothy St. James stop by for a visit to tell us about her new series!

The Making of a Chocolate Murder
by Dorothy St. James

When I was writing Flowerbed of State (the first book in the White House Gardener Mystery Series) way, way back in 2010, the idea for a mystery series set in a chocolate shop started dancing around in the back of my mind. Why? Because I luuuv chocolate and, you know, you can’t write a book without research!

I knew there were already several popular bakeshop and chocolate shop mystery novels being published, so I wanted to make sure mine was a new and different twist on the theme. So I did some research—yummy research.

Did you know that if a chocolate bar doesn’t state the percent chocolate it contains, it’s not really considered chocolate? Did you also know that there are three main varieties of chocolate beans being commercially grown, but the most flavorful bean is hard to grow and even harder to find in the stores? And did you know even though the cacao bean originates in South America, most of the world’s chocolate production occurs in Africa under some questionable labor practices?

I didn’t know any of that until I started my yummy research. And those facts gave me an idea. My fictional chocolate shop wouldn’t simply create truffles and bonbons. It would be what is called a bean-to-bar chocolate shop. And it would use the most flavorful and rarest cacao bean in the world to create a chocolate that few in the world have ever tasted. Think of it this way. The chocolate you can buy in the stores could be compared with the perfectly round, watery tomatoes grown on large farms. The rare chocolates sold in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery Series are like heirloom tomatoes that are bursting with so many flavors it makes your tongue happy.

Now that I knew what kind of chocolate I wanted in my mystery series, I needed to decide where to put this special chocolate shop of my imagination. After thinking it over, there was really only one place the Chocolate Box could be—Folly Beach, South Carolina. That’s the quirky seaside town where I’ve lived for the past twenty years. Folly Beach is perhaps too quirky, so I decided invent a toned-down fictional town for the mystery series. Camilla Beach is a beach town that hasn’t yet been redeveloped into a tourist town. The residents who live on the small island treat each other like family. (Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes that’s not.)

And there had to be a dog. I based Stella, the feisty papillon in the book, on Iona my best girl and a dog I miss with all my heart. I was so, so pleased when my publisher (Crooked Lane Books) used a photograph of my Iona to create the drawing of Stella on the cover of the book.

Finally, I had to come up with a murder. Of course the method of the murder in this first book had to involve some kind of chocolate. But that part was easy. And the rest…? Well, you’ll have to read the book to know how it turns out.

And that’s how a new series was born. I hope you enjoy this special book.

Are you hungry yet? I’m running a contest on my website (http://www.dorothystjames.com/contest.html) where I’m giving away a chocolate bar made using one of the rarest cacao beans in the world. The contest is open until September 30, 2017.
Good luck!

~Dorothy

Thank you Dorothy for visiting today!! 


Asking for Truffle: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
Brand New Series
Setting – South Carolina
Crooked Lane Books (September 12, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683312918
Kindle ASIN: B06XW8GW16

 

 

When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize―only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.

Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.

Includes Recipes

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As soon as I saw this cover pop up on Facebook I knew I needed to read this book! Look at those truffles and the cute puppy.

Ms. St. James starts us out just up the highway from where I am sitting here in Wisconsin, when Charity Penn (Penn) learns she has won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina and The Chocolate Box. Thinking is has to be some kind of scam she doesn’t get too excited. Then a friend, Skinny McGee, says he is going to be in South Carolina area and tells her he will check the place out. After a phone call from Skinny gets cut off and she learns he was found later dead in vat of chocolate, she has no choice but to venture south to find out what happened. She is not welcomed with opened arms by everyone but the ladies at The Chocolate Box are sure happy to see her. But there is something very wrong in Camellia Beach, in addition to the death of her friend, and Penn is not heading back to Madison until she gets to the bottom of it.

I really enjoyed this story. Penn reminds me a little bit of myself, we both have the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality. She has kind of closed herself off due to her upbringing making her very independent but hard for people to get to know. She is clearly an individual that has a deep hurt that has affected her for a long time.  Still she hops on a plane to a place unknown to her to find out why her friend was killed. Everyone in the town was sketchy from police chief, to the local lawyer, and even the ladies at the chocolate shop were hiding something. Her skeptical nature serves her well in this town.  I appreciated the character development throughout the story while still allowing room for the characters to continue to grow over the course of the series.

The plot itself has several twists giving several viable suspects but I was on the right track early on. I always say, first books in a cozy mystery series are a heavy lift because the author not only has to introduce the main character and the people around them but give us a mystery that clicks with the readers and engages them to come back for future books. The author did that here with an extra twist in the plot away for the murder/s. Something that the reader is unsure about until almost the very end of the story. While the murder was solved she left other questions I need answered. I am definitely excited for the next installment.

Learning about the cacao beans, where they come from and how to work with them was super interesting too. The candy descriptions had be drooling and craving chocolate.

Oh and just a little heads up –  that cute little puppy on the cover is a feisty little creature known to bite even her owner. 🙂  She also has to deal with another animal in this story and when it was introduced I could have fallen out my chair laughing.

This series is off to a great start and I am excited to see what happens next.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About The Author

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. For the past 20+ years, she made her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

~From Amazon

Find out more about Dorothy and her books on her webpage here.


I am giving away my signed Advance Review Copy!
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Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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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.”

Murder on the Toy Town Express: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery by Barbara Early Get Your Copy Today!
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