Apr 082017
 

Dying on the Vine: A Mystery (Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries)
Series: Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries (Book 2)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California

Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 4, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250072559
E-Book ASIN: B01L7BD9VM

 
 
 
 
 

Synopsis

When wedding planner Kelsey McKenna goes to the Wine Country Wedding Faire, the last thing she expects to do is take on new clients. After all, she’s just there to help out her friend Brody and maybe score some free cupcakes. But when a young couple in a pinch asks for her help, she just can’t say no.

There’s only one problem: they’d been working with Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings—and things did not end well. Kelsey wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, but unfortunately she never gets the chance. When she goes to Babs’ office, she finds the wedding planner dead on the floor.

Babs’ high-strung assistant Stefan knows exactly who killed Babs: Kelsey. At least, that’s what he very publicly accuses her of at Babs’ funeral. When Kelsey decides to do a little sleuthing to clear her name, she uncovers a myriad of secrets and lies. And when a second wedding planner is attacked, Kelsey begins to wonder if she might be next.

Set against the stunning backdrop of California wine country, Marla Cooper’s Dying on the Vine is a mystery brimming with gossip, wine, and, of course…murder.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We find wedding planner Kelsey McKenna helping out her photographer friend Brody at the Wine Country Wedding Faire.  She is surprised when a young couple approaches her about helping them with their wedding. It seems the father of the bride fired their wedding planner and their wedding is only a couple of weeks away. She has stepped in before for a one day commitment before and has room in her schedule so she quickly accepts. Then she learns the couple’s previous planner was none other than Babs Norton, the Queen of Wine Country Weddings.  Kelsey calls Babs and is amazed when Babs asks her to just stop by her office and pick up their file. But she is thunderstruck when she arrives to find Babs dead. Things get worse for Kelsey when Babs’ assistant points his finger at her as the killer. She needs to clear her name fast. She is worried she may be the killer’s next victim.

The setting for this book sounds absolutely outstanding. In the California wine country many vineyards have places to host events like weddings. The new couple Kelsey is working with has booked one of the most popular and posh of them. They even have special caves that can be booked for smaller gatherings. Kelsey is also working with the the owner of a more rustic site to start hosting events.

While the core characters of Kelsey, Brody, Laurel return from book one, Terror in Taffeta, the rest of the characters are new. The wedding party, Babs and her assistant, and the staff at the venues all bring their personalities to the story. They are introduced well and very developed. Laurel also takes on a greater role in this story. She, Kelsey and Brody make a great team. Laurel pushes Kelsey in all the right ways and Brody tries the best he can to reel her in when she starts to go too far. Notice I said “tries”. There are also a lot of funny moments with these three, such great dialogue, very true to life. 

The author gives us plenty of suspects to ponder. Brody even brings Kelsey a big dry erase board to create her “murder board” to keep everyone straight. She chases down several false leads and has many theories but when all the clues fall into place and she realizes the truth it makes perfect sense.

I loved the ending of the story but I didn’t want this story to end. These have become some of my favorite cozy literary characters. I am excited to see where the next wedding takes them.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

marla cooper

About The Author

As a freelance writer, MARLA COOPER has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

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Praise for Dying on the Vine
by Marla Cooper

Characters are great and glad to see them again in book 2.
~Babs Book Bistro

I really enjoyed the story and thought the author did an amazing job of developing her characters.
~Texas Book-aholic

I think she blew the cozy world away with this series.
~Bibliophile Reviews

The mystery is well plotted and quite complex; there’s no way I could have figured out the murderer’s identity.
~The Power of Words

This was a fun read over spring break – enough action, quick pace, yet light and easy to follow.
~Christa Reads and Writes

…all the elements were blended together with a hand worthy of the tastiest Napa vintage. So add this one to your wine cellar – and your bookshelf.
~Back Porchervations

This is a quick easy read, and the wine country setting was great fun to read about.
~Book Babble

I read book one and liked it very much. I have to say book 2 is even better then book 1…
~T’s Stuff

You won’t want to stop reading once you start. Add this one to your reading list, you will love it.
~Shelley’s Book Case

This is a refreshing read, to disconnect and enjoy a good time while the wedding of your dreams is prepared and guessing who could be the killer.
~Varietats

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Tour Participants

March 28 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
March 28 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
March 29 – Blogger Nicole Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
March 30 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
March 30 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT
March 31 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
March 31 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
April 1 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST  
April 2 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
April 2 – Mystery Playground – GUEST POST
April 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
April 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
April 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW
April 4 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW
April 5 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
April 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
April 6 – Varietats – REVIEW
April 6 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
April 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  
April 7 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 8 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
April 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
April 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
April 10 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
April 10 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

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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.”

Mar 212017
 


Kneaded to Death
(A Bread Shop Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Setting – California
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496707727
Kindle ASIN: B01GBAG7KO

 
 
 
 

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to a wonderful start.

Ivy Culpepper has returned to Santa Sofia following her mother’s death to be closer to her father and brother and to deal with her own grief. I myself am dealing with the grief of losing my son so I clearly identified with Ivy’s grief. We all grieve differently and Ivy find herself taking a bread making class at Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. Before they even finish the first lesson one of the students in murdered just outside of the shop. When she learns the owner of the shop is the police’s prime suspect, Ivy starts to poke her nose into the investigation. The bread crumbs she is following lead her somewhere very unexpected. Can her theories really be true or is this just a half baked idea she has come up with to deal with her pain? She rises to the occasion as she tries to catch the real killer.

For me there was much more to this story than a cozy mystery. I was very interested to see how Ivy dealt with her grief. I was happy to see her find a support group in the woman in her bread making class. I have learned how important it is to surround yourself by individuals that have your back and are there for you whenever you need them. For me it has been family, friends and surprisingly an online support group. The theme of this story, the making, kneading and baking the bread was a great way to facilitate just what Ivy needed. Of course, a murder to solve is a great diversion that works in books, not so much in reality. 🙂

The characters in this story are all very well developed. I love the smattering of Spanish within the dialogue. Surprising how much of high school Spanish I remember. Don’t worry everything is translated in a very natural way the does not obstruct but adds to the conversations.

The mystery itself takes some really nice twists to get us to the final reveal. Secrets and surprises drive the plot to a very captivating conclusion.

Ivy grows so much within these pages. Her life is really at a crossroads. I was so happy with the way the story ended.

I am so excited for the next installment of this series. I really want to visit these characters again soon and get to know them even better.

I was nervous about reading this story last week as we hit the two year mark of my son’s death, but in a way I can’t really explain it gave me “food for thought”. Support can be found in so many places. We just need to have the courage to reach out or step into places and circumstances that may be uncomfortable at first but beneficial in the long run. I am not sure if the author’s mission was to give this type of a lesson, but I sure appreciated this story.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.
Visit Winnie online:
WinnieArcher.com

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon. Learn more at http://melissabourbon.com.
Twitter @MelissaBourbon


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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.”

Mar 152017
 


I am delighted to have Janet stop by today!
Her new book Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table was released yesterday!

 

Kelly Jackson Mystery Series

by Janet Finsilver

 

When I read, not only do I look for a good story, I like to learn something new along the way. As a result of that, I’ve tried to put interesting facts into each of my books. I’ve researched some of the unique aspects of Mendocino, California, which my fictitious town of Redwood Cove is based on. Antique silver objects, Greek fortune telling, and sinker logs are a few of the areas I’ve sprinkled into my books. Dogs with special abilities are part of the series. I’d like to share some of this information with you in this post.

Years ago I read an article about a standard poodle trained to detect cancer in people. I found it fascinating. Since then numerous studies have been done. Dogs can find a variety of cancers. Their rate of success varies among the reports. Some research has shown up to 98% accuracy. This led to Fred, the basset hound in Murder at Redwood Cove.

My awareness for anything unusual regarding dogs was raised. I began seeing articles on a multitude of abilities. In Murder at the Mansion I introduced Jack and Jill, two canines trained to find bed bugs and termites. They extend their abilities to dry rot by the end of the book. Dogs are great for these tasks. Their acute sense of smell can lead them to hard-to-find bedbugs and prevent places being torn apart unnecessarily when searching for termites and dry rot. They are being used in England in many of the old mansions.

Princess, a tan Chihuahua, debuted in Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table. She’s a feisty retired hearing assistance dog that sports jeweled collars. Princess began to be a little hard of hearing and was replaced by a black Chihuahua named Sergeant. It was fun learning about the different ways they help their owners.

That book also has a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder dog. You will often see them being referred to as PTSD dogs. I chose a Bernese Mountain Dog for that role. This was one of the most unusual areas I researched. They are trained to do whatever their owner needs which varies from person to person. They might circle around the person to keep crowds at a distance or go into a home to be sure no one is hiding in the building. There’s even a dog phone they can be taught to use in certain situations. It sits on the floor, has a large button for the dog to hit, and dials a number that has been programmed into it.

I mentioned earlier that Mendocino itself has interesting aspects to it. The town and surrounding land has been designated as the Mendocino and Headlands Historic District. Many of the buildings are from the 1800s. The Mendocino Presbyterian Church dedicated on July 5, 1868, is still in use. There are strict rules that need to be adhered to when building or remodeling so the town keeps its “Old West” charm.

I’m currently working on my fourth book tentatively titled Murder at the Mushroom Festival. Mushroom hunting is big in the Mendocino region. I’ve taken two classes and now know more about fungi than I thought would ever happen in my lifetime!

Sinker logs are unique to the area and are also part of the fourth book. These are old-growth redwood logs cut down in the 1800s that remained in the river bed. People began harvesting them when they realized how valuable they were because of their grain and colors. A halt was put to collecting them when authorities became concerned about damaging the habitat.

Learning about antique silver objects led me to learn about apostle spoons. In Murder at the Mansion, my protagonist finds twelve well-crafted silver spoons with intricate designs. They were used as christening presents, and the spoon represented the baby’s apostle. She also finds an object to resembling a fish, with fins on one side and a split tail. It’s a knitting sheath. A needle was put in it, allowing the woman’s right hand to be free to handle the yarn. It helped her to work more quickly and efficiently, especially when walking.

Greek fortune telling in Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table involves reading the patterns in the grounds of Turkish coffee to predict the future. It’s a very ancient practice. Some people call it tasseography. A special copper pot with a long, triangular-shaped handle called a briki is used to prepare the coffee. There are a number of steps performed for the reading including putting the saucer on the cup, swirling the coffee in it three times, and flipping it over.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse at pieces of my Kelly Jackson mystery series!

~Janet


Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table
(A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – California
Kensington Publishing Corporation/Lyrical Underground (March 14, 2017)
Paperback 190 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1616509347
Kindle ASIN: B01HA435CI

 
 
 
 

Poisons, prophecies—and a peculiar past . . .

When a local woman begins searching for a couple she hasn’t seen since the 1960s, Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson and the crime-solving group, the “Silver Sentinels,” are quick to help out. They’re also quick to guess that they’re in over their heads after the woman is found dead beside the body of a Greek fortune teller—and a fellow Sentinel gets attacked. As Kelly juggles work and her responsibilities at a food and wine festival in town, she and her sleuthing posse must confront a killer obsessed with old secrets . . . and solve a murder mystery more than fifty years in the making . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have been looking forward to this book since finishing up the last one. This time Kelly and the Silver Sentinels start out tracking down a couple people that were in the area back in the 60’s but when their “client” is found dead along with a local fortune teller they are quickly involved to prove the two woman have been murdered. It puts their sleuthing skills to the test and a couple of them in danger too.

This ensemble cast led but Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove B&B, is just fabulous. Their canine companions are icing the cake. Diverse and genuine they all mesh together using their strengths to their advantage to not only solve mysteries but to keep each other safe. I like that they stay in touch and work together with the local police. Their past experience shows they can trust each other and it is a little twist to the normal cozy where the protags investigate without the consent of the authorities. The new characters are very interesting too.

This plot is complicated because there are a lot of suspects and everyone seems to be hiding something. A multitude of twists and a surprising ending had me positively glued to the pages.

Ms. Finsilver adds a touch of romance to this story, is Kelly headed for a new relationship?

I have enjoyed all three stories in this series and I am excited for number four. All can be read on their own but I suggest starting at the beginning.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016.

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Find out more about Janet Finsilver and her books on her webpage here.

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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.”

Feb 092017
 

I am wrapping this tour up today!
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Sybil Johnson

Favorite Color –  Blue

Favorite Candy –  Frango mint chocolates

Favorite Snack –  Popcorn

Favorite Soft Drink –  diet Coke with Lime

Favorite Hard Drink –  Toss up between Pinot Grigio and Maker’s Mark Bourbon


Favorite Ice Cream Flavor – Mint chocolate chip

Favorite Movie –  Gone With The Wind

Favorite TV Show – Good Witch

Favorite Book – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Favorite Fictional Character – Miss Marple

Favorite Super Hero –  Batman

Favorite Singer/Group/Band – I don’t really have a favorite group or singer. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, old and new. Currently, I’ve been listening to The Carpenters. Karen Carpenter had a wonderful voice.

Favorite Carnival Ride – Ferris Wheel

Favorite Spring Activity –  I have a spring birthday so I enjoy making myself a birthday cheesecake. I love to experiment with new recipes. Peppermint Bark and Oreo cookie are my current favorites.

Favorite Summer Activity – Sitting out on our deck and reading or working on a story.

Favorite Fall Activity –  Disneyland! I love the Halloween decorations and how they change the Haunted Mansion every year.

Favorite Winter Activity –  Walking down to the beach. There are fewer people around and it’s cooler though not cold. Very soothing.

Favorite Place to Read – Any place in my house that is quiet and sunny.

Favorite Place to Write –  Same as above. Any place in my house that is quiet and sunny.

Dream Vacation Destination –  Australia/New Zealand (taking a cruise ship to get there and get back)

Thanks Sybil for playing 20 Quick Questions!

SybilJohnson_2_cropped

About The Author –

Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

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a-palette-for-murder-front

A Palette for Murder (An Aurora Anderson Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – California
Henery Press (January 31, 2017)
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111415
E-Book ASIN: B01M74ZIL3
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A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane…

Summer’s sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city’s homeless population. Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze. Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.

Still, Rory doesn’t expect to find her neighbor’s body just a few doors down. When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

Book 3 in this series takes us  to California is heat of summer and some thieves are taking advantage of residents leaving their windows open to catch an ocean breeze. Sadly one robbery leaves behind a body. Rory finds her neighbor dead of an apparent attack. Police quickly focus in Rory’s friend Dawn so Rory does a little investigating on her own but she may be painting herself into a corner.

What a perfect read while it is winter in Wisconsin. The heat seeped right out of  the book and made me feel the warmth and enjoy the breeze. I could almost smell the ocean and hear the waves as Rory chased down clues both in the murder and trying to find out who hurt a homeless man. A man who Rory has sort of taken under her wing.

The author really shined with this mystery. Willow, the woman who died, had secrets and quite a past. We keep learning more and more as the story continues and there are some surprising twists that paint quite a picture of who Willow really was. Ms. Johnson set a nice quick pace to this mystery. One that made the book very hard to put down, I did read it all in one sitting. One part even made me shed a tear or two.

I really enjoy the characters she has created. Close friends Rory and Liz, not quite Thelma and Louise, but they have a special bond. Rory’s romantic life is still in flux but I do enjoy the way the author is not rushing it, leaving it to evolve naturally and in a very believable way. Of course, there are always those bumps in the road that twist things up a bit. I think I know where she is headed and it is fun to watch it all play out.

Each story in this series is better than the last. I hate to think I have to wait a year for my next visit. Thank you Sybil for another perfect escape.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

More Praise for A Palette for Murder
by Sybil Johnson

This is an enjoyable read with interesting characters and plot turns… Readers of cozy mysteries will enjoy this one.
~ Christa Reads and Writes

With the help of friends and friends of friends, this neighborhood mystery reveals itself at a comfortable, steady pace.
~Laura’s Interests

The author does a great job creating a world that grabs the reader and pulls them in, keeping them engaged from start to finish.
~Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

I really liked this book, the story is interesting, the mystery keeps you guessing all the book and the characters are lovely and friendly.
~Varietats

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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.”

 

Feb 072017
 

A Measure of Murder:
A Sally Solari Mystery

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Crooked Lane Books (February 7, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683310181
Kindle ASIN: B01KGD6JWS
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Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s, and helping Javier plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she’s just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, Sally joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard–and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident.

Now Sally’s back on another murder case mixed in with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin–set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. Can Sally catch the killer before she’s burnt to a crisp, or will the case grow as cold as yesterday’s leftovers?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As if running the front end of her father’s restaurant and taking over her aunt’s restaurant weren’t enough to keep Sally busy she decides to join a local choir. Granted they are performing one of her favorite pieces and it is just for a few weeks of rehearsals and the performance, but taking it on has both her father and her chef a little freaked out. When one of the choir members falls to his death in the middle of the first rehearsal even Sally starts to wonder if it is all too much. The police rule it as an accident but Sally thinks it was murder and so does the victim’s girlfriend. Sally starts doing a bit of investigating and soon she has several suspects. Does she have a recipe to catch a killer? Maybe if she can stay alive long enough to see if her theory is half baked or fully boiled.

In this second installment of the Sally Solari Mysteries, the author takes us beyond the restaurants and introduces several new characters, members of the choir and its director. At first it seemed like too many characters but she quickly focuses in a few that had interactions with the deceased, but still when added to the characters we already knew at the restaurants, it is a lot to keep track of. Several have back stories that we need to learn to follow how they were involved with the deceased and several are holding things back or have secrets that are yet to be revealed.

The variety of characters leads into the flow of the story which is a little rocky at times. The author needs to find ways for Sally to interact with the her suspects and while one comes to work at one of the restaurants, the rest have to be met before, during or after rehearsals and somehow Sally finds time to go on long bicycle rides with another. It was Sally’s use of time that really tripped things up for me. My parents ran a restaurant, doing so takes tons of time even if you had a competent staff. My parents missed out on so many things in my life because they were tied to that business most of the waking hours each day. Sally deciding to take so much time off for the choir and still have time for bike rides and searching for a murderer would stretch a real person way too thin. But this is fiction, so I just needed to suspend reality for a while.

The mystery was solid and the ending was a bit surprising. There was quite a bit of time spent on the musical part of the theme. We followed Sally through the intense training of learning her part and how it related with other parts of Mozart’s Requiem. Not an easy piece to learn. This was in addition to the things Sally was learning about the restaurant she inherited from her aunt. She wants to learn to cook on the line, she needs to learn about ordering, pricing and menus, she needs to deal with staffing issues at both restaurants. For me the murder part of the plot took a back seat just a little too often.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series better than this one. Sally is a strong character but this time she just was not as engaging. In fact, I was just tired “chasing” around with her. The theme was good but Sally’s life needs a little editing to make it at all believable. One person can only juggle so many things. I hope the author narrows her focus in Sally’s story in upcoming books.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can find out about Leslie Karst 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.”

Jan 272017
 


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.

Paint the Town Dead
(An Aurora Anderson Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Henery Press (December 8, 2015)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1943390335
Kindle ASIN: B0156W71GW

 

 

The Ocean Painting Society invites you to join the painting wave…

It’s June in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, the place computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson calls home. Decorative painters are flocking to the newly built Akaw hotel to attend the Ocean Painting Society’s inaugural convention.

During the weeklong event, Rory plans on shopping the trade show floor, working in her mother’s booth, taking classes and connecting with other decorative painting fans. She doesn’t expect to witness her childhood friend collapse in class and die. When the police find no evidence of foul play, Rory embarks on her own investigation. Can she brush aside the lies to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice?

Dollycas’s  Thoughts

Rory has her hands full this week helping her mother at the Ocean Painting Society’s inaugural convention. She is excited to be able to spend some time with her friends, especially Jasmine, who has moved back to the area. She is devastated when Jasmine collapses and dies during one of the painting classes. The police believe the woman took her own life but Rory isn’t buying that at all. She immediately starts her own investigation.

Sybil Johnson has given us quite a twisted up mystery. Someone attending the convention wanted Jasmine dead and they had to be very sneaky to bring it all about. You see she had a condition that the killer had to know about to pull off their crime and not too many people knew about it. In fact that is why suicide was the immediate cause of death determination. Thankfully Rory was ready to fight to prove that wrong.

I reviewed the first book in this series a couple of weeks ago and I had a problem with the flow of the story. Well I did not have that problem with this story at all. The flow was steady from start to finish. There are several things happening. We start with a brick through a window, then on to protesters picketing the damage the new hotel did to the area, to all the snafus that can go wrong at a big convention, and even Rory’s mom pushing her to get a man in her life. Yes, there is some romantic tension too as we meet someone special in our dashing detective’s life. But all may not be what it seems…..and then of course there is the murder.

I like these characters, Rory and Liz’s friendship is fun and they have each other’s back. I like where the author is heading with all of the characters. The story is very well written and the mystery makes sense. Rory’s job as a website consultant and helping out at her mother’s tole painting and scrapbook store’s booth at the convention give her plenty of opportunity to follow clues and hunt down leads and get herself is some dicey situations too.

This was a strong addition to this series. I am looking forward to the newest book in the series, A Palette for Murder, releasing January 31.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

SybilJohnson_2_cropped

About The Author –

Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

Author Links

Website    Facebook Author page     Twitter   GoodReads    Publisher

I am giving away 1 e-copy of Paint The Town Dead.
It will be sent directly to your email 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.

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Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

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

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5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 9, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

Jan 062017
 


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.


Fatal Brushstroke (An Aurora Anderson Mystery)
by Sybil Johnson
Cozy Mystery
1st In Series
Setting – California
Henery Press(November 18, 2014)
Hardcover: 270 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1940976525
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1940976495
Kindle – ASIN: B00N265TVY

 

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weeks before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Rory Anderson is a computer programmer that works from her home in sunny California. As a hobby she enjoys tole painting. Sounds like a quiet idyllic life to me. But when a body is found buried in her garden things become chaotic as Rory is a suspect trying to clear her name.

This was an interesting debut. Rory has a past that the author explains over the course of the story that makes her a very vulnerable main character. She spends a lot of time with her mother but their relationship felt a bit off until more of Rory’s past is revealed and things start to fall into place. At first I thought maybe I missed a novella or a previous story in this series but after double checking found that was not the case I soldiered on. I feel if her past would have been addressed in full at the beginning the flow of the book would have been better and not so choppy.

Disregarding the flow, the theme and substance of the mystery was enjoyable. Painting instructor, Hester Bouquet, killed, but by who? The author gives a several viable suspects, and I had both of my prime suspects cast aside when additional facts were revealed. The police seemed determined Rory was the killer, what they lacked in evidence was trumped by the location of the body and they seemed satisfied. We do learn why the police chief is so determined to prove Rory guilty rather than really investigating the crime, but I really didn’t like him as a character from the start. Thankfully Rory kept digging and digging to prove him wrong. She does hold things back from him and was not always forthcoming but that is just a normal part of cozy mysteries.

I always say first books in a series are difficult because the author has a heavy lift, introducing the characters and giving us a mystery that grabs us and holds us to the last page. While the character introduction was a bit murky at first, the mystery was skillfully composed. The description of the setting, Vista Beach, was pleasing as well.

Now that I have gotten to know Rory’s backstory I am really looking forward to the next book in this series, Paint the Town Dead, which I plan to read very soon as the 3rd book in the series, A Palette for Murder is being released at the end of the month.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

SybilJohnson_2_cropped

About The Author –

Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

Author Links

Website    Facebook Author page     Twitter   GoodReads    Publisher

I am giving away 1 e-copy of Fatal Brushstroke.
It will be sent directly to your email 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.

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 January 20, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

 

Jan 042017
 

 

Welcome to the first Cozy Wednesday of 2017! 
I am excited to Welcome Diana Orgain
to Escape With Dollycas today!

 

Researching a Haunted Castle for Third Time’s a Crime.

By Diana Orgain

It began like most things begin today – with a google search. I was hunting for the perfect location to set my next mystery Third Time’s a Crime. The mystery is the third book in my reality TV series where I’d concocted an unsolved murder at a haunted castle. I needed an eerie location as a starting point for my story.

When I found the Preston Castle in Ione, California I knew I had it! From the Preston Castle website: “Experiences at the castle have included EVP, humming, whispers, touching, channeling, and seeing and recording orbs and apparitions. There have been no harmful events and no one has been hurt during these overnight events.”

You see this is no ordinary castle – it was the home of Preston School of Industry, one of the oldest and best-know reform schools in the United States. It is said to have been the sight of many mysterious tragic episodes, violent encounters and even unsolved murders. The accounts of visitors are that the castle is rife with ghost sightings. The fact that the castle sponsors overnight ghost tours seemed like just the ticket for my research.

I dialed my dear friend and paranormal mystery author, Kirsten Weiss.

“Want to go on a haunted castle flashlight tour with me?” I asked.

Kirsten laughed a response.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked, fearful that my request was too over the edge even for a paranormal mystery author.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to be invited on a haunted castle tour,” Kirsten said. After I explained the details to her, Kirsten added. “Can we stop at a winery I like in Lodi?”

Now I couldn’t believe my luck. We were going to explore a historic site in California and include wine tasting?

Awesome.

We arrived at The Preston Castle as the sun was setting. It was wintertime and the light didn’t hover for very long. Before we knew it, our view of the Castle turned from breathtaking to downright eerie. The docent handed us flashlights and ushered into the vast foyer. The castle is 46,000 square feet, has 77 rooms and no fewer than 43 fireplaces and 257 windows!

We were cold beyond belief; every window in the place was broken, cracked or gone. We were only allowed to tour the first few floors and the basement. The third and fourth floor were closed due to the condition of the roof (I believe there’s a hole in it and those floors are beyond repair).

The first stop on the tour was the “prayer” room. It was set up like a small chapel, but instead of praying we watched an intro video that included the history of the construction of the castle and famous inmates (among them, my favorite country singer of all time Merle Haggard!)

Most of the public rooms on the main floor – like the dining room and hall – were enormous, while the private bedrooms on the second floor were tiny. Of note, on the second floor one side of the hallway had rooms with a sink, while the other side had rooms with a fireplace.

The dining room fascinated me. “Where the kitchen?” I asked the docent.

“Downstairs,” she told me. “It’s where they found the body of the head housekeeper, Anna Corban.”

A chill danced across my spine. Poor Anna.

“Can we see the kitchen?” I asked.

The docent took us down a narrow staircase and showed a small cupboard where Anna’s body had been hidden. The cupboard was so small it seemed impossible that anyone would fit in it.

It turned out the kitchen was small too. All the food was prepared there and then transported through a dumbwaiter up to the dining room.

The cupboard, along with the kitchen and especially the dumbwaiter sparked an idea for me, and shortly after Third Time’s a Crime was written! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

~Diana

Plus an Excerpt –

One

The raven swept down upon us in a terrifying plunge, talons outstretched, screeching at an ear-shattering pitch. Instinctively, I jumped out of the way and reached for my gun, only remembering too late that I hadn’t carried one in eighteen months, since I’d been let go from the San Francisco Police Department.

The bird’s massive wings flapped so close to me that the breeze lifted my hair and I fought the urge to strike out at it. Suddenly, the bird arched up and flew to the top point of the castle, perching itself overhead.

The woman next to me gasped. “A raven? That’s a bad omen.”

Cheryl Dennison, our executive producer, yelled, “Did you all catch that?”

“I got it,” one of the cameramen shouted excitedly. “I got a great shot.”

“Good,” Cheryl said, a self-satisfied smile playing on her face. “We’ll want to use that in the promos.”

“Cheryl probably shipped that bird in from Hollywood,” I said under my breath to the woman next to me. “Just to capture that shot.”

The woman, a former FBI profiler, made a face. As if she disapproved of Hollywood histrionics.

We were on location at the Golden Castle, said to be haunted and the scene of an unsolved murder. During its heyday, it’d doubled as a reform school. It stood nestled on the hill overlooking the charming old mining town of Golden, California. But the castle was far from charming. It was so large it blotted out the sun and the windows were dark and murky. The exterior bricks had been built in San Quentin Prison and they projected a feeling of doom and gloom. Overall, the castle had such an ominous presence that it screamed “horror film,” or in our case, “bad reality TV.”

My best friend and the assistant producer, Becca, had begged me for weeks to accept the casting offer. She knew I wasn’t too keen on the paranormal aspect of the show. I wasn’t exactly a “believer” but now, despite myself, looking at the castle sent a shiver up my spine. I squeezed Scott’s hand as we hiked up the gravel driveway toward it.

“All right!” Scott said, barely able to keep the excitement out of his voice. “It’s downright menacing.”

I giggled. I knew that, being a horror writer, this haunted castle was right up his alley.

“Remind me again why I’m doing this?” I asked.

“To solve the crime,” he said.

“The fact that this is my third stint on reality TV is the crime,” I said.

Scott flashed me his winning smile, reminding me again why I always felt so warm and happy in his presence.

We’d met and fallen in love on the first show, and won the cash prize to boot. However, the money hadn’t stretched as far as we’d hoped and we’d signed up for the whole rodeo again. But the second time, I hadn’t won the money, and after starring on reality TV, my chances of ever landing a job again as a police officer were between slim and none.

I figured I better take the opportunity to solve a case while I could. Who knew, maybe I’d be able to salvage a shred of my reputation.

Besides us, the famous forensic archaeologist from the Hunting Bones reality show chuckled. “You know you love it,” he said.

I turned to him. “Love what? Solving a crime?”

He glanced over at Scott and was seemingly deciding if he should say what was really on his mind. When he noticed that Scott was mesmerized by the castle looming over us, he said, “The limelight.”

“You don’t seem to mind it yourself,” I said, trying my best not to bristle.

He was tall with piercing blue eyes and a confidence that made him handsome. He had the type of square jaw and prominent nose that was extremely photogenic. I knew without a doubt his looks were the reason that Hunting Bones had been such a smashing success.

“All right, listen up, folks,” Cheryl said. “As you know, we need to get some final images for the intro montage, so please line up over here where the light is best and let’s get some usable footage before we get on to filming the first episode.”

A rumble of excitement worked its way through the cast and crew. We were quite a crowd. On location, there were ten of us contestants, the show’s host, Harris Carlson, several cameramen, lighting techs, sound techs, the hair and makeup folks, along with the production team.

The cast took turns lining up against the awful red bricks; preening, primping, and pirouetting on Cheryl’s request.

We were five teams of two players. Scott and I made up one team. Dr. Arch, the forensic archaeologist, and his sometimes cohost, the FBI profiler Karen Kenley, made up the second team. There was a historian from an Ivy League college paired with her brother, a priest. Then a professed ghost hunter partnered with a psychic. And finally two young women, the castle docent and the unsolved murder victim’s great niece.

Our mission was to solve the murder of Jane Reiner. According to the limited information we’d been given, the historical accounts about Jane’s murder all differed. Some said she’d been hung in the kitchen, other accounts claimed she’d been stabbed in the basement and still others said she’d been shot in the supply room.

All accounts seemed to believe that Jane haunted the castle and would continue to do so until her murder could be solved. Rumor had it that she appeared from time to time to visitors either hanging in the kitchen or bleeding in the basement or supply rooms.

None of the information squared, so in Cheryl’s infinite wisdom, she’d pitched to a Hollywood Studio the idea that a team of misfits might be able to solve the historic murder on national television.

Needless to say, it was such a bad idea that Hollywood loved it.

Once inside the castle, the creep factor only escalated. The inside of the building was a like a maze with steps and hallways spinning in every direction, vertically and horizontally. The stairs were worn and creaked as the cast and crew climbed them to what was known as the prayer room.

A strange smell filled the room, like sulfur mixed with stale kerosene that someone had attempted to mask with a flowery perfume.

“Whoa! Do you smell that?” the psychic asked. “It’s a presence! Most certainly a presence!”

The man claiming to be a psychic was the least likely person I would have expected. I figured Cheryl would have a cast a pretty blond young lady, but instead the man before us was as large as a lumberjack complete with a burly red beard. I’d liked him immediately, even though, of course, I couldn’t believe a word he uttered.

I wrinkled my nose. “I think the room’s probably been closed up a long time.”

“No, no,” the docent disagreed. She worked at the Golden Castle as one of the tour guides. “We air it out every day, but the smell always returns.”

Fingers tickled the back of my neck and I involuntarily jumped as Scott leaned in close to me, his lips touching my ear. “Oooh,” he whispered. “Creeeeeppppy.”

“I thought you were here to protect me, not freak me out,” I said.

He pressed his forehead to mine, looking into my eyes. “You certainly don’t need my protection, but you have it babe, always.”

As Scott leaned in to kiss me, Cheryl’s screechy voice interrupted our romantic moment. “People! Listen up. The team is going to need a few minutes here to set up the cameras, lights, and mikes. We’ll kick off the show here. Harris will give the introduction. The camera will pan on each of you as Harris introduces you. Then we’ll go ahead and start the castle tour for the viewers. You’ll all need to make sure your hair and makeup are set. Please don’t wander off and get lost.”

Scott rubbed at his shaved head. “I’d better see to getting my hair fixed.”

“It is kind of messy,” I joked. Suddenly, I had the strange sensation of being watched. Which one would think I’d be used to after two tours of reality TV, nevertheless I still found the feeling mildly disconcerting. I turned to find Dr. Arch staring at Scott and me.

“You two don’t seem to be taking this very seriously,” he said.

Scott hid his amusement. “You believe in all the hocus-pocus going on here, doctor? Spirits trapped in the in between.”

The priest, who’d been meditating in front of a candle, snapped to attention. “Oh, I do think there is evil here. With much prayer, we can send the spirits on.”

Cheryl strode between us. “Now, now, father. We had this discussion, didn’t we? Save it for the cameras.” The priest shook his head and seemed ready to argue, but Cheryl was already on to the next group, calling out, “Five minutes, people. Ready in five.”

“Anyway, what I meant was,” Dr. Arch continued, “is that you have to take this one seriously. It’s viewer determined, you know. If you don’t get the votes, you’ll be sent packing. Even though I’m betting against myself here for a moment, I think you two probably have the best chance of solving the mystery.”

Dr. Arch’s partner, Karen Kenley, sidled up to him. “That’s some vote of confidence, Arch.”

The doctor looked chagrinned. “I didn’t mean anything against you, honey.”

Karen Kenley, the FBI profiler, looked like the type of woman who never accepted any excuse, either from a man or much less from a woman. Her straight black hair hung like a curtain around her face. She had the type of sharp features that let you know right away if you messed with her, you’d get cut.

Cheryl clapped her hands again. “Okay, people,” she shouted. “Places please. Cast, line up here.” She indicated a row of blue painter’s tape the crew had laid down for us. “Harris, you’ll stand here—” A large thump against one of the windows startled Cheryl. She put a hand over her heart. “What was that?”

“A bird, I think,” Scott said. He rushed to the window, but the glass was so hazy it was impossible to see through.

The lumberjack psychic next to me moaned and pressed his fingers to his temple.

His partner, the ghost hunter, fiddled with a device strapped to his belt and asked, “Can we go outside and take a look? I have to investigate, my EMF is going crazy.”

“What’s that?” Scott asked.

“It measures fluctuations in the electromagnetic fields,” he said.

Cheryl collected herself. “Let’s not get distracted here, folks. We have to start filming.” She put on a headset and made a beeline to the back of the set and motioned for cameras to start rolling.

Harris took center stage and said directly into the camera, “Welcome, America, to Cold Case in the Castle!” Harris’s voice boomed in his made-for-TV persona. “We’re coming to you from Golden, California, where the town has had a dark and tragic unsolved mystery haunting them since 1960. You see, back in the early 1900s this castle was a reform school, a home for the state’s most delinquent wards. However good-intentioned the state may have been in wishing to rehabilitate the wards, horrors came to pass: abuses, escape attempts, violent encounters, inhumane punishments, and, yes, ladies and gentlemen, even murder.”

Harris gave a dramatic pause, then continued. “There were five murders that took place on these grounds. All were solved.” Harris held up his index finger and gave a flourish as he said, “Except for one.”

“The disturbing and brutal murder of Jane Reiner. Jane had been an innocent and lovely youth, working as a librarian in training, when she mysteriously disappeared. Her body was later discovered heinously murdered on the premises of the reform school.”

The cast made the appropriate gasps and tsking sounds.

Harris launched into a brief recap of the facts we’d been given, then said, “And that’s where you, dear viewer, come in.” Harris continued, “Join us, as we travel back in time and solve Jane’s murder. We’ve assembled a cast that we believe can help us do just that.”

One by one, he motioned toward us and introduced the cast. When he finally landed on the last contestant, the lumberjack psychic suddenly moaned as if in pain and fell to his knees. He screamed out, “Oh, no!”

“Oh, brother,” I mumbled to Scott, but before he could respond there was a deafening and repetitive pounding on the windows. We all jumped and turned toward them only to see a massive onslaught of small black birds flying directly into the glass.

Karen and Dr. Arch gasped, the ghost hunter rushed toward the glass with his EMF device in hand and the historian from Harvard fainted.

A loud splintering sound echoed through the room as the ancient glass shattered against the assault. Then Cheryl called in a cheerful voice, “Cut!”

 

Third Time’s a Crime (A Love or Money Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – California
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 3, 2017)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425271704
Kindle – ASIN: B01E4WAFHW

 

 

POOL YOUR RESOURCES…

After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America’s living rooms, audiences can’t get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a young woman who disappeared at the castle in 1960.

Except there’s one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: a groundskeeper is found drowned at the bottom of the castle’s empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there’s a different sort of game afoot—and it’s not one they can afford to lose…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Georgia and Scott are appearing on their 3rd reality show, Cold Case in the Castle, where the task is to solve an old murder in a creepy, old, dilapidated castle. Each day a couple is eliminated and hopefully at the end the winning couple solves the cold case. Of course the producers never imagined some new murders would take over the show and place the contestants in danger. Georgia finds herself trying to solve them all.

Fans of realty shows will be delighted with this series.  In the first book, A First Date with Death, it was like The Bachelorette. The second, A Second Chance at Murder, was like The Amazing Race, this time it is like the short lived series, Whodunnit?, with a little bit of Ghost Hunters thrown in.

Diana Orgain has given cozy readers another fun story. At first I was a little tentative about the setting but this mansion/castle with its interesting and at times dangerous floors, rooms, and hiding spaces turned out to be a perfect place. The grounds also added some interesting areas.

She has brought back Becca, Cheryl, Kyle, and Georgia’s father, Gordon, and introduced a variety of new characters in the cast and crew. We also meet the head of the historical society who is not happy to have all these people traipsing around “her” property. Each person’s personality comes through clearly and realistically.

In addition to the murder mysteries to solve, Scott and Georgia are having a bit of trouble in their relationship, Becca meets someone new, and Cheryl and Gordon are still an item.

I really enjoy the way Ms. Orgain writes. All these books in this series have a brisk pace and there is always something happening. This one was a little bit shorter but readers are not shortchanged. She has packed these pages full. She takes us behind the scenes of reality television and beyond in a refreshing way.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author
Diana Orgain is the author of the Maternal Instincts Mysteries and coauthor of Gilt Trip with Laura Childs in the New York Times bestselling Scrapbooking Mysteries. She holds a B.A and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University with a minor in acting. Diana has acted professionally both on stage and in national commercials. She’s written several plays, which were produced at San Francisco State University, GreenHouse Productions, and PlayGround. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children. Visit her atwww.dianaorgain.com.

 

GIVEAWAY

 

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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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 222016
 

crime-and-catnip

Crime and Catnip (A Nick and Nora Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – California
Berkley Prime Crime (December 6, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270226
E-Book ASIN: B01CZCW4ZY
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Synopsis

Crime and Catnip by T. C. LoTempio – Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.

While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown.

As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him…

INCLUDES DELICIOUS SANDWICH RECIPES

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Nick and Nora are back for the 3rd story in this series and they have their hands/paws full. Nora is still trying to track down human Nick, she is catering a huge gala and the director of the event has asked her to continue the case human Nick was on when he disappeared, and then of course there is a dead body found at the gala and maybe some missing jewels. Could all these things be tied together? You will have to read the book to find out.

Ms. LoTempio has written a very complex mystery for us to solve. Thankfully Nick, the cat, is there to help both us and Nora find and follow all the clues. He is one smart feline. I still think there is so much more to his story but events in this book have me rethinking my original theory. He and Nora along with Nick’s (the human) old partner have to work out secret codes that may lead to international espionage plus Nick (the cat) uses his unique talents to communicate with Nora and help her out of a few dicey situations. If she would just share her info with the hunky law enforcement officers that are prominent in her life before she goes too far… instead of after her life would be a bit safer. I do love the way they show up just after the “nick” of time.  All of these characters are so fun and unique.

One thing I have learned reading this series is the author loves to twist things up as much as she can. That is the reason that once you start reading it is very hard to stop. This one kept me up extra late and I needed a midnight snack too.

Nora runs her mother’s sandwich shop where she serves sandwiches named after actors and actresses. At the end of this book you will find recipes for the Hugh Jackman Sub and the Emma Stone Capri Sandwich, and many others are described within the story. My mouth was watering.

I love this series and each new story quickly becomes my favorite. There is a cliffhanger at the end that leaves me so excited for the next story to be released. Should be out in November or December of 2017. A whole year…I don’t like it but I can make it because I know good things come to those who wait. 🙂

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

fred-profile

About the Author…..

While Toni LoTempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.com and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Author Links

Where to find them:
ROCCO’s blog:
www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Website   Facebook    Goodreads   Twitter:@RoccoBlogger

About the Author…..

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.com and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

 

New Series coming in March 2017

GIVEAWAYThanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to giveaway!
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 January 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.”


Dec 022016
 

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.

claws-for-alarm
Claws for Alarm:
A Nick and Nora Mystery

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (November 3, 2015)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270219
E-Book ASIN: B00TY3ZKGI
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 
 
 
 
 
 

“The purrfect sleuthy duo”* is back, and this time murder hits close to home for Nora Charles and her partner Nick, a stealthy little feline gumshoe groomed to solve a shocking crime.

Since inheriting her mother’s sandwich shop, Nora Charles is more about hot grilled paninis than cold-blooded murder—until her sister Lacey is arrested. The victim, an esteemed art collector and Lacey’s bullying professor, was stabbed in the heart. Apparently, all over a lousy grade.

Off campus, things were just as dicey. The prof had an ex with secrets, a trophy wife set to inherit a fortune in masterworks, and a scorned student mistress. Going undercover, Nora realizes that investigating this crime is the biggest test of her sleuthing career. Because if she fails, even Nick’s animal instinct won’t be enough to rescue Lacey from a perfectly executed framing.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS SANDWICH RECIPES

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoy this author’s twist on The Thin Man as the theme for her mysteries.  In this case Nora is joined by a lovable cat named Nick and I believe there is more to this cat than just being lovable, he is a very special cat. A cat very savvy in figuring out clues and presenting them in very clear ways for Nora to understand.

In this 2nd installment of the series, Nora receives a call from her aunt telling her that her sister Lacey is in big trouble. One of her professors has been killed and Lacey was seen standing over his body with the murder weapon in her hand right before she fled the scene. The man wasn’t well liked and there have to be many more suspects. Nora and Nick set out to get their claws into the real killer and get her sister out of jail.

The author has given her readers another strong mystery to solve and thankfully Nick is there to move both the reader and Nora down the right path because there are twists that had us scratching our heads but later made perfect sense. She is also still trying to find out what happened to Nick the cat’s former owner Nick the private investigator. There are a couple of interesting developments.

All the characters are well developed including a man from Nora’s past and a very handsome FBI agent.  They do their best to keep Nora at her sandwich shop and out of their investigations but she is a pretty stubborn woman when she sets her mind on something, especially when it comes to trying to save her sister.

Speaking of the sandwich shop, there are recipes at the end of the story. You may want to start there and make yourself a sandwich before you begin reading. Sandwiches are described within the pages with their clever and catchy names. They will have your stomach growling and your mouth watching so it is better too be prepared than having to put the book down for a grocery run or a trip to the kitchen.

Great characters and a great plot means this book is a perfect escape!

I need to mention that you do not need to know anything about the movies or the original story by Dashiell Hammett to enjoy this story, but if you do this story is a must read. I used to watch the movies with my mom way back when. This story and the one before always bring up those fond memories. You can probably catch them somewhere on television if you want to check them out.  Also the next book in this series, Crime and Catnip hits store shelves December 6.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

fred-profile

About the Author…..

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.com and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

 

New Series coming in March 2017

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 December 16, 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.”

No Way Home (A Zoe Chambers Mystery) by Annette Dashofy Order Now
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