Mar 132015
 

special guest blue

I am so excited Denise Swanson is my guest today. She has been posting cupcake pictures on her Facebook Page for weeks and I have been drooling!!

Denise Swanson Author Photo

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Cupcakes

1. Be open to new experiences. When I started writing Dying for a Cupcake, since it was about a cupcake contest, I looked for recipes with unique flavors and ingredients. Up until that point, I had only made my mother’s chocolate or my grandmother’s silver-white recipes. While I still love the old tried and true chocolate and white cupcakes, I have to admit that the cream cheese cupcakes with guava buttercream were mighty tasty. (See recipe below)

2. Never take shortcuts. Boxed mixes and canned frostings seem like a time saver, but like everything in life, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

DYING FOR A CUPCAKE3. Be sweet, but not cloying. As children, most of us liked really sweet desserts and really sweet people. As an adult, I like a little zip or zest in my cupcakes Sweet can be a little boring.

4. The best things in life don’t last forever. Be it a freshly baked cupcake or your favorite jeans or the people you love, enjoy them while you can because the cupcake will get stale, the jeans will wear out and the people will eventually be gone.

5. Perfection is highly overrated. For a long time, I wouldn’t make cupcakes for parties or potlucks because mine never looked as perfect as the ones in the pictures. They all weren’t exactly even and the frosting wasn’t swirled just right. Then one day, my husband took a batch that I had rejected as not good enough to his office. They were a huge hit. Most of his colleagues were used to store bought bakery and couldn’t get enough of my homemade treats.

If I had never gotten over my perfectionism, I would have never gotten past the first chapter when I started writing. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to learn from your early efforts, rather than refuse to try.

In cupcake making, just as in life, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You may have all the fancy equipment from the Food Network, you may be using a recipe that’s been in your family for generations, but stuff still happens. A too hot kitchen, high humidity, or a faulty timer can destroy all your work.

But instead of vowing never to try again. Clean up the mess and make a fresh start. When I was submitting my first book to agents, I received two hundred and seventy rejection letters. And while a lot of them had valid criticism, much of what they didn’t like was out of my control because when it all comes down to it, most things in like, like cupcakes, are a matter of taste.

~Denise

guavacupcakeCream Cheese Cupcakes with Guava Butter Cream
Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup softened cream cheese

Butter Cream
Ingredients
1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons shortening
1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup guava marmalade

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well, add cream cheese. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Butter Cream
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Separately blend guava until smooth, then add to butter cream a little at a time. Place in the fridge. After cooling place in piping bag and swirl.

About the author: A former school psychologist, New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson spent twenty-two years working in the public school system. She realized her experiences were actually excellent research for mysteries. Denise’s fourth book in the Devereaux’s Dime Store series, Dying for a Cupcake, debuted March 3. Denise also writes the Scumble River Mysteries.

Find Denise at www.DeniseSwanson.com
Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor
Twitter at DeniseSwansonAu

DYING FOR A CUPCAKEDying for a Cupcake:
A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Missouri
An Obsidian Mystery (March 3, 2015)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451418890
E-Book ASIN: B00MNN7HVC
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When Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair hosts a cupcake contest at her five-and-dime store, she discovers that someone is just dying to win…

Kizzy Cutler finds it so delicious to be back in her hometown of Shadow Bend, Missouri, that she seems to have forgotten why she fled twenty years ago. For now, she’s excited to kick off her new line of cupcakes with a competition, which Dev has agreed to host in her shop. But before the first yummy cupcake is even baked, Kizzy’s assistant Fallon dies from a mysterious ailment.

While the medical examiner attempts to discover what killed Fallon, Kizzy declares that the show must go on. However after Kizzy escapes several near misses, Dev is convinced that someone in Shadow Bend has it in for the Cupcake Queen. Is the secret from her past so dark someone still wants to kill her for it?

With a list of not-so-sweet suspects, Dev’s in a race against the timer to solve the murder before someone else gets iced…

Includes a sneak peak of the next Scumble River Mystery!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Denise reeled me right in, she has been posted cupcakes on her Facebook page for weeks and had me drooling to read this book.

In this 4th installment to this fun series Shadow Bend welcomes former resident, now the Cupcake Queen, Kizzy Cutler, and a weekend of fun as a contest is held to find her newest cupcake creation. The 10 contestants arrive along with Kizzy and her entourage. But before the first cupcake is baked Kizzy’s assistant dies and it doesn’t appear to be from natural causes.

As the investigation gets underway Kizzy announces the weekend festivities will continue. That makes someone very unhappy as Kizzy has several dramatic experiences. Dev starts to think the assistant wasn’t the one that was suppose to die. She believes someone is targeting Kizzy and it may have to do with something that happened in Shadow Bend more than 20 years ago. The makes for one sweet mystery!

Dev runs the local five and dime and her father recently released from prison helps her out at the store. This time the men Dev is dating are both out of town. Dr. Noah is volunteering overseas for a couple of weeks and Deputy U.S. Marshall Jake is off investigating a case that involves his ex-wife. Enter the new fire chief with a pizza and Dev romantic life gets a lit more complicated.

What a fun read! We have the characters we already love, a new one to hate, plus a hunky new one that I know if going to cause havoc. Kizzy was a piece of work in high school, today we call them bullies. No wonder someone wants her gone.

The mystery was one that keeps us guessing and I can’t tell you more without ruining the story but it is really good.  Denise Swanson is a pro at blending mystery and romance with the perfect amount of humor. I loved this story!

This is a fantastic addition to this entertaining series. The author sets up the next story too whetting our appetite for next year.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAY

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Following the new Google+ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Fan Page
will earn you 3 Bonus Entries.

Leave a comment for Denise for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End March 27, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners 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.”

Feb 242015
 

great escape tour banner large the deep end640

The Deep End
by Julie Mulhern

You will be hooked on this whodunit from the start. This debut novel will keep you wanting more.
~Shelley’s Book Case​

Full of colorful characters, good dialogue, and taking place in the 70’s at the height of the Watergate scandal, The Dead End kept my attention from start to finish. The first book in “The Country Club Murders” series, is off to a good start.
~Queen of All She Reads

This book is pretty funny. The characters are well written. With the main character Ellison Russell your like I totally understand why she did that, and others your like, I just want to smack you. I can’t believe you did that.
~Tea and A Book

THE DEEP END cover 5
The Deep End
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Missouri
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (February 17, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1941962237
E-Book File Size: 507 KB
ASIN: B00PWE819Q
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Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Set in the 1970’s this book treads close to the cozy/non-cozy mystery line due to some very interesting interests of some of the characters. Since it tells you in the synopsis I am not giving anything away by telling you sex of the kinky variety takes place and could be the reason a certain woman ends up dead floating in a country club swimming pool. It was the swinging 70’s!

Ellison Russell is unhappily married but sticking it out for her child and for appearances. How things appear to the world or other members of the country club are very important to Ellison’s mother and she is sure to tell her daughter that several times a say. As the story goes on Ellison becomes much stronger and really could care less what other people think shocking her mother and giving readers a good giggle or two.

I enjoyed the references to Watergate, and old television shows like Kojak and The Streets of San Francisco. A time before cell phones and when you wanted privacy on the phone the squiggly phone cord was stretched to reach into a closet or another room. A time when news was found in a newspaper not on a computer.

Julie Mulhern does a great job pulling us back in time and into Ellison’s world. She fills the story with very colorful characters and a plot that keeps us guessing the entire journey. She also makes us laugh and that is always a plus.

The Deep End is an excellent start for The County Club Murder series. Ellison really evolved in this story and I look forward to where the author takes her next.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

julie

About This Author

Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean—and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is—she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award.

 

Author Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliekmulhern

Twitter: @juliekmulhern

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/juliemulhern/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8573907.Julie_Mulhern
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Tour Participants

February 16 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Guest Post

February 17 – Queen of All She Reads – Review

February 18 – Babs Book Bistro – Guest Post

February 19 – deal sharing aunt – Interview

February 20 – Tea and A Book – Review

February 21 – A Blue Million Books – Interview

February 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review

February 23 – dru’s book musings – Guest Post

February 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review

February 25 – OMNIMYSTERY NEWS – Interview

February 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review

February 27 – Lori’s Reading Corner – Guest Post

Feb 062015
 

great escape tour banner large death and the red headed woman640I was set to review this book later in the month but today’s blogger has disappeared from the internet so I popped myself in as a replacement. I was originally just going to post a spotlight but I squeezed the book into my reading schedule and boy I am so glad I did!

Death and the Redheaded Woman
Death and the Redheaded Woman
(An Auction Block Mystery)

Mystery
Setting – Missouri
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (February 8, 2015)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738743936
E-Book ASIN: B00S1MTLCW
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Next Up for Auction: Murder

When auctioneer Wren Morgan begins cataloging the contents of the Campbell mansion, she’s unprepared to find something that can’t be appraised—a dead man. After the body turns out to be a criminal with ties to a recent jewel heist, Wren comes face-to-face with Death Bogart. A private eye and part-time bounty hunter, Death is searching for the stolen jewels needed to convict a murderer.

Death finds a friend and willing ally in Wren, but they aren’t the only ones searching for treasure. Two ruthless men are also on the hunt, and they will do anything to eliminate the competition. To survive, Death and Wren must solve two mysteries spanning a century and a half and outwit a pair of cold-blooded killers.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This book is just amazing! When a book starts out with

He was gorgeous and he was naked but, unfortunately, he was dead.

you sit up and pay attention because you have not idea where this story is going to take you. But I quickly knew this was going to be an extremely entertaining read.

Wren Morgan is an assistant auctioneer. She arrived at the Campbell Victorian to start an inventory of the oldest house in the county for an upcoming auction. Barely in the door she finds the dead body, something tells her this auction won’t be taking place anytime soon.

Death (Dee-th) “it’s a family name” Bogart, a private eye/bounty hunter has just arrived in town chasing down a bail jumper. Death is also a veteran, who had to leave the military for health reasons. The government is taking its good sweet time processing his military benefits so he is presently living in his Jeep Grand Cherokee. He arrives at the police station to drop off his detainee and sees Wren across the room and is immediately captivated.

The relationship that has begun between Death and Wren was a pleasure to read as they quickly grew comfortable with each other. Death has been through so much and Wren opens her heart to him. Like many war vets he not only has a physical disability, he also suffers with PTSD.  His self esteem is pretty darn low and he has a hard time accepting help. Wren knows to tread lightly and allow Death to share things with her at his own pace. She too has a bit of drama in her past and he knows she needs someone to help her get on with her life and someone she can trust. Ross was written both characters in a way that you become engaged into their lives and what they are feeling pretty rapidly.

The main mystery plot of the story is excellent. We are not only following clues to solve a murder but there are some valuable items that have gone missing and there may be a tie in to some objects that disappeared back during the Civil War. The “aha moment” was absolutely priceless and something I never saw coming.

Loretta Ross has a fantastic sense of humor and liberally injects into this story. I was smiling and giggling throughout.

The author also knows how to tempt us readers. As this story wraps up she give us just a bit of a tease of the next Auction Block Mystery.

To learn this is Loretta Ross’ debut novel just blows my mind. I don’t need an appraisal to tell you this is an author we need to watch! She is going places! I am completely SOLD!!

paradise5 STARFISH5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

 

Author Photo

 

About This Author

Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman will be her first published novel.

My Website is at http://www.lorettasueross.com.

My blog is connected to my website at http://lorettasueross.com/blog/

My Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/lorettasueross

My author page at Goodreads is at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/236665.Loretta_Ross

I’m on Twitter as @lorettasueross and my profile page is at https://twitter.com/lorettasueross

Other Purchase Links: B&N Book Depository

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In addition to the Rafflecopter above I also have
1 Print Copy of this fantastic book to giveaway!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US 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.

Following the new Google+ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Fan Page will earn you 3 Bonus Entries.

Leave a comment for Loretta for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End February 20, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

 

Check out the rest of the tour!

Tour Participants

February 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview

February 2 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

February 3 – The Ninja Librarian – Review

February 4 – readalot – Review

February 5 – Kelly P’s Blog – Guest Post

February 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Spotlight, Giveaway

February 7 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review, Giveaway

February 8 – Jane Reads – Review, Giveaway

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 252014
 

just for fun 2014
This is a challenge to help us get some of those books on out To-Be Read stacks read without the pressure of a review (unless we want to) or meeting any other challenge. These books are read totally Just For Fun. I have given just a brief review because I read the book JUST FOR FUN!!

This month’s Just For Fun read has been on my To-Be-Read shelf for over 2 years. My daughter kept asking “Why haven’t you read that book yet?” almost every time she visited. Now with the movie coming out and the 3 of us wanting to go I knew I had to read this book now. No more excuses.

gone girlGone Girl
Crown (June 5, 2012)
Published by Random House
Hardcover: 432 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0307588364
Paperback: 432 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0307588371
E-Book File Size: 1810 KB
ASIN: B006LSZECO
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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?    As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I know I am probably one of the last people to read this book so I will give you just a brief review. I also don’t want to give anything away for those that haven’t read it or plan on just seeing the movie that comes out October 3.

This is  a really dark and twisted story.  I was fully engaged from the start and Part 2 was a huge surprise but I was totally disappointed by the ending but my daughter loved it so I guess it is open to debate. Maybe my age has something to do with it. This was one really screwed up marriage.

With all my reservations and conflicted feelings aside Gillian Flynn is an excellent storyteller. I was feeling a myriad of emotions while reading the story and it kept drawing me in. Then I wanted to throw the book at the end but I checked out a few reviews and talked to others and I am not alone.  In fact there are almost 23,000 reviews on Amazon for Gone Girl ranging from 1 to 5 stars. A book like this is perfect for a Book Club because as soon as you finish it you want to talk about it. I imagine there have been some awesome discussions since this book came out in 2012. I believe a good book invokes conversation and this one sure meets that criteria.

just you and a friend
4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*This book was from my private collection.

Aug 192014
 

IF CATFISHIf Catfish Had Nine Lives
(Country Cooking School Mystery)

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (August 5, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Phil Parks
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425269282
E-Book File Size: 1325 KB
ASIN: B00I3N5QKU
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Betts Winston has inherited more than her cooking skills from her grandmother—she can also see and talk to ghosts of people that once roamed the streets of Broken Rope, Missouri, in the days of the Old West…

With Gram’s Country Cooking School on spring break, Betts and Gram are taking part in this year’s cowboy poetry convention, offering lessons on frying catfish over an open campfire. But when a staged gunfight ends in real death and her brother Teddy becomes a prime suspect, Betts may be the one to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

After her ghostly guardian Jerome appears to watch her back and a spectral Pony Express rider gallops into town with some unfinished business, Broken Rope starts to seem more like a cowboy ghost convention. With trouble on both sides of this mortal coil, it’s up to Betts to clear her brother, put the spirits to rest, and make sure the true killer doesn’t become the one who got away.

Includes Recipes!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Paige Shelton has given us another top notch cozy mystery. She blends cooking with mystery, history, and ghosts. She also adds in a spoonful of romance that may surprise you.

Betts and Gram are fantastic characters but Jerome always steals my heart. He is always there when Betts needs him and this time she really needed him to help unlock all the mysteries she was trying to solve.

Broken Rope is a very special place. It takes us back to the Wild West and I appreciate the way Jake tries to keep all the history straight.  An enormous task and he continues to receive more and more information and treasures for his collection. I loved learning more about the Pony Express.

Shelton continues to amaze me with her imaginative stories. The characters are unique and engaging, the main plots and subplots mesh together perfectly. The history and the mystery draws the reader in and hangs on tight. Then she adds some killer recipes to boot!

Paige you had me with this one – hook, line and sinker! This book is quite a catch!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Paige Shelton and her books visit her webpage here.

I am giving my review copy away!!

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Contest Will End September 2, 2014 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.”

Mar 062014
 

DEAD BETWEEN
Dead Between the Lines:
A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery

3rd Book in Series
Cozy Romance Mystery
Obsidian (March 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451418883
E-Book File Size: 1278 KB
ASIN: B00EOARAFU
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Opening an old-fashioned five-and-dime shop in her small Missouri hometown has been a great change for Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair. But when she hosts a reading group there, she learns that bad writing can mean life or death.

To keep her new business in the black, Dev opens up her shop to local clubs. But in the first meeting of the Stepping Out Book Club, the speaker storms out after members attack his poetry’s sexism and scorn for small towns. Later that night, the poet’s body is found outside Dev’s store.

Dev can’t afford for the murder to close her down, so she does a little stepping out of her own to investigate, with help from her two sexy suitors, Dr. Noah Underwood and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio. But when the killer threatens Dev, they will have to use every trick in the book to solve the case before she becomes the final chapter in this murder mystery.…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Another great story from Denise Swanson. I categorized this one as a Cozy Romance Mystery because the romantic triangle of Dev, Dr. Noah and Deputy U.S. Marshall Jake is really the prime storyline in my opinion. With Jake back in town and thinking about making that permanent, Dev is going to have to make a decision sooner rather than later. You can only keep these two men in limbo for so long or there may a murder that will be easy to solve. Thankfully I am sure one man will back off gracefully but unhappily when she makes her decision.

I love that Dev opens up the extra room to local groups to make a little extra money. This time it is the Stepping Out Book Club that is featured when their guest speaker turns up dead way too close to the five and dime. I was surprised the entire group didn’t strike him down right in the middle of the meeting. What a first class jerk he was!! I will say that final twist that unveils the killer was jaw dropping. I did not see it coming at all.

This series is filled with very interesting characters and I can’t wait to see where the author takes them next.  The possibilities seem endless.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Denise Swanson and her books here.
Denise Swanson – Amazon

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.”

Aug 132013
 

if bread could rise
If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion
(A Country Cooking School Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (August 6, 2013)
A Division of The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Phil Parks
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425252239
E-Book File Size: 783 KB
ASIN: B009RYS4CQ
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Isabelle “Betts” Winston and her grandmother invite students from all across the country to attend Gram’s Country Cooking School. Many apply but only a few are chosen each year. This year a student arrives, Freddie O’Bannon, who has an acceptance letter but Betts nor her grandmother can remember seeing his application or can find any record of him in their files. They decide to allow him to stay if they can verify his references.

Another arrival puts the issue with Freddie on  the back burner. Cylas Gent, a ghost who may have been a romantic interest of Gram’s, seems to need some help solving a mystery from the past.

Then another mystery arises as one of the new students is found dead. Gram and Betts have their hands full. Can they solve all mysteries without getting burned??

Dollycas’s Thoughts
One of the reasons I love this series is because each story contains not one but two whodunits. With the help of their friends, both dead and alive, Gram and Betts do everything they can to get to the bottom of these mysteries. The ghosts only know so much and their memories are not very good, but the current residents of Broken Rope, Missouri have some resources that help bridge the gap a bit between the past and the present. Sometimes the mystery from the past points them in the right direction for those in the present and the current ones give a link to those in the past too.

All the characters in this story seem so real and jump right off the page. A picture is easily painted in out minds that bring every one of them to life.

This time a favorite ghost from a past story returns and it is so darn easy to forget he is a ghost for both Betts and us readers. Paige Shelton, you made me cry!!

The new ghost’s story is very unique and it truly captivated me from beginning to end. The author adds just the right little touches that makes it possible for us to step right over into their story.

This book is absolutely brilliant and a pure pleasure to read! I am always a little sad when I reach the last page. My visit to Broken Rope ends much too soon. We are treated to some tasty recipes to tide us over until the next installment. We have had chickens, potatoes and bread…wonder what tasty morsel will be featured next. All I know is I CAN’T WAIT!!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Paige Shelton visit here 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.”

Mar 152013
 

NICKELED

Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death:
A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery

2nd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (March 5, 2013)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451239426
E-Book File Size: 1142 KB
ASIN: B008EKOO78

Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death: A Devereaux's Dime Store MysteryDevereaux Sinclair loves running her old-fashioned store in her small Missouri hometown. If only murder didn’t keep landing on her doorstep…

Dev’s five and dime is doing great but her personal life is a mess. She has feelings for two men, Deputy U.S. Marshall Jake Del Vecchio and Noah Underwood, her high school boyfriend, who is now the local doctor. His high society family came between them in the past but he claims he can now stand up to his mother.

When Elise Whitmore stops by her store to offer to sell her some antique chocolate molds that would be perfect for her Easter gift baskets she gets her mind off her love life and back to business. Dev realizes this is a deal to good to pass on but wonders why Elise is selling them. Are they even hers to sell? Elise and her husband are getting divorced, maybe she shouldn’t have bought the molds.

Not long after selling the molds Elise is found shot to death. Dev’s friend Boone is the one that found her and he has been taken into custody. Dev wishes Jake wasn’t away on an assignment because she could use his help. So she rounds up her friends including Noah to find the real killer and clear Boone’s name.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A romantic cozy mystery! I absolutely loved this story!!

None of Dev’s friends or her Grandmother think much of Noah. He treated her badly and they are holding a grudge. Dev is ready to forgive and forget but her friends are not letting her rush into anything. They like her so much better with Jake. Unfortunately Jake is spending a lot of time away from Shadow Bend and he is with his boss who just happens to be his ex-wife. Romantic tension – just a bit!

The mystery is quite complex with several suspects and by solving it Dev Sinclair may be finding more than a killer. I love the twists the author has given that connect the books in this series by more than the characters and the setting.

The characters are so warm and real. Fantastic dialogue. It is very easy to imagine pulling up a stool at the soda fountain for a cherry coke or grabbing a chair in the crafting alcove to catch up with them and learn what’s happening in this little town in Missouri.

I anxiously await my next visit with Dev, Gran, Jake, Noah, Poppy and Boone! I wonder what kind of trouble Denise Swanson has planned for the wonderful cast! a perfect escape 5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Denise and Her Books Visit 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.”

NICKELEDreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d0859412013where are you readingmystery challenge

Nov 212012
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am thrilled to welcome Elaine Viets here today. I am a big fan of both of her series!

Hi Elaine!

Hi Everyone!

Faking It on Your Wedding Day
By Elaine Viets

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus is finally getting married. But she won’t have an easy time before she walks down the aisle. Lenore, her future mother-in-law, flies into St. Louis from Boca by private jet. Josie thinks Ted’s meddling mother should come in on a broom.
Josie loves Ted and wants to avoid an argument, but her patience is sorely tried. Lenore “helps” – read that as “tries to control” – their simple wedding until Josie wishes someone would lock up Lenore.

She gets her wish, all right. Lenore is arrested for murder. Dr. Ted has a woman stalker, and she winds up shot. Lenore is arrested for murder one.

Now Josie can’t marry Ted unless she finds the real killer.

 

Jewel Box – Interior

Jewel Box St. Louis

 

 

Ted and Josie do get married in the flower-filled Jewel Box in St. Louis, an art deco conservatory beloved by generations of brides. She has a traditional wedding cake with swags of white butter cream frosting.

Josie figured their wedding cake would cost about $400, but she hadn’t figured in a $50 delivery fee. She has to mystery shop wedding cakes and flowers to pay for the unexpected extra cost.

A wedding cake can cost a week’s salary or more. Way more, up into the hefty four figures. But some couples have their cake and eat it, too: They rent fake cakes for the wedding.

Those impressive cakes on display at the receptions are layers of iced Styrofoam. Some fake cakes have a top layer of real cake for the bride and groom to stage the cake cutting ceremony.

Other fake cakes have a secret compartment to hide a slice of real cake for the cutting photos.

Once the cake cutting is over, the fake cake is hustled away and the wedding guests are served slices of cheaper sheet cake.

Fake cakes can save couples real money, especially at big weddings. They just have to slice into the right layer for the cake cutting photos.

For couples who consider a traditional wedding cake a big, fat waste of money, a fake cake rental starts at about $125, plus shipping.

One major online company is cakerental.com (http://www.cakerental.com/index2009.html)

Who gets fake cakes?

Hollywood celebrities. Corporations celebrating major milestones, including the Ford Motor Company. Even celebrity chef Duff Goldman had a fake cake for his book signings.

The TV show, “Whose Wedding Is it Anyway?” rented a fake cake. And so do couples who want a sweet show on their wedding day. After the wedding, the fake cake is shipped back to the rental company.

There’s only one drawback:
Make sure drunken Uncle Ray doesn’t try to snitch a slice of the fake cake.

~Elaine

Murder is a Piece of Cake:
Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper

Obsidian (November 6, 2012)
Publish by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Cozy Mystery
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451238511

Murder is a Piece of Cake (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper, #8)

Mystery Shopper Josie Marcus is thrilled to be getting married to Dr.Ted. Her boss gives her an early wedding present/assignment. Josie gets to investigate wedding cakes and flowers. She is also busy finalizing her own wedding plans as her future mother-in-law starts to drive her a little crazy with her “minor” changes. Still it is good to have “pistol packing” Lenore around when she comes to the rescue when a homicidal bridezilla named Molly threatens to kill Ted unless he agrees to marry her.

Josie thinks the pre-wedding drama is behind her and there will be smooth sailing ahead. Then Molly is found dead and the pistol packing mama is the prime suspect. Lenore is behind bars and the wedding is on hold. Josie has no choice but to track down the bridezilla killer so that her and Dr. Ted can get married and start their wonderful life together.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I love this series!

Josie Marcus is an amateur sleuth everyone will love.  In this 8th installment to the Mystery Shopper Mysteries she pulls out all the stops. Planning a wedding, dealing with a bridezilla while not becoming one herself, and catching a killer. Then there’s her future mother-in-law and her helpful suggestions. While she was behind bars Josie felt obligated to accept every one, but she needs to keep her wedding  from becoming an over the top extravaganza.

This story will have you laughing out loud, following the clues, and wishing and hoping Josie’s dream wedding comes true. This is a fast paced mystery that will keep you guessing until the final clue is uncovered. 

The author also includes great tips if you are planning a wedding too whether you are the bride or even the future mother-in-law. 

Elaine Viets always gives us mysteries that  are fun and entertaining!  Keep them coming Elaine.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

A woman I can identify with! Elaine writes her novels with the help of Harry, a striped cat who sleeps by her computer and lashes the keyboard with his tail. He whips her into a writing frenzy. Harry collaborates on two series, the Dead-end Job mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. She’s won the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty awards. For more about Elaine check out her web site http://elaineviets.com

Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?

Thanks to the people at Penguin
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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 192012
 

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance
(A Cooking School Mystery)

2nd Book in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (October 2, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425251614
Cover Illustration by Robert T. Barrett
Cover Design by Laura K. Corless

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance (Gram’s Country Cooking School Mystery #2)

Broken Rope, Missouri is home to Gram’s Country Cooking School and a few very special ghostly guests. Isabelle “Betts” Winston and her grandmother “Miz” seem to have the unique ability to see and communicate with the deceased residents of the town but keep that under your hat. It’s supposed to be a secret.

In this installment Gram and Betts receive an unusual request. Some foodie tourist’s local reservations have been messed up and to help out they agree to put them up overnight at the cooking school and keep them busy with a few cooking lessons.  At the same time ghost Sally Swarthmore, one of Broken Rope’s legendary murderers, shows up wielding her ax and begging Betts to help her find her diary. She thinks it may prove she was not the one responsible for those ghastly murders.

It isn’t long before one of the tourists ends up dead and two others are missing. Cooking takes a back burner as Betts tries to solve not just one mystery but two and rope a cold blooded killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Fun! Fun! Fun! Two Mysteries In ONE!!

A mystery from the past, a mystery in the present, a blonde, top heavy ghost swinging an ax, an eclectic group of tourists, a couple of residents who can talk to dead people in a town dedicated to reliving the wild past for tourists on a daily basis. What a great place to visit!!

I immediately got a picture in my head of Sally. Dolly Parton brandishing an ax! I am not sure if that is how Opie portrays her or her exact ghostly image but that is the picture in my head. I fell for her in an instant. I knew right away there was so much more to her story and this author didn’t disappoint. She was definitely my favorite character in this book.

But the main and supporting characters are growing and evolving too. We are learning more and more and they are quickly becoming friends we will want to visit again and again. Betts works both mysteries with a little help from her friends. Sometimes those ghosts really do come in handy.

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance definitely had me chair dancing so bring on the potatoes. Twice Baked sounds good to me! This story and the bonus recipes are a delectable delight!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Paige Shelton Visit Her Webpage

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.”