Apr 022014
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

I am so happy to welcome Melissa here today! When her last book A Custom-Fit Crime back in July she was busy with a huge home remodel and couldn’t drop by. This time she is not only here for Cozy Wednesday she is also touring with Great Escapes Book Tours. You can check out the tour here.

Welcome Melissa!

Melissa-Bourbon-Ramirez-_2The Beauty of a Snow Flake

 

My two book series take place in hot states. The Lola Cruz mysteries take place in Sacramento, California, and A Magical Dressmaking mystery series takes place in the fictional town of Bliss, Texas. Both are cities where you can fry an egg on the sidewalk in the summer and freeze your toes off in the winter.

When we moved to Texas from the Sacramento valley nearly six years ago, we’d been here six months and it snowed!  On Christmas Eve, no less.  It was magical. We’d never lived where it snowed, and while North Texas isn’t known for its snow, we’ve gotten a good dusting almost every year. This year, we’ve had four or five snow days (some of them ice days) and we still love every single one of them.

killing_notionThat first Christmas Eve, we were awestruck by the storm, the falling snow, the breathtaking beauty of it all.  It was fabulous to see, and we fully appreciated the beauty of each snowflake that fell.

Recently, on a snow day and when I was procrastinating, I ended up looking up quotes about snow. “To appreciate the beauty of a snow flake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”  I have no idea who said this, or what inspired it.  At first glance I agreed with the statement. Yes, absolutely, you have to be outside catching snowflakes to really see their beauty.

 

But then I remembered a children’s book I have (a Caldecott winner) called Snowflake Bentley.  It is the true story of a man who spent his life photographing snowflakes.  It’s a fabulous book and one we read every holiday season (even now that my kids are older).

If I tried to turn this quote about snow into one about writing, it would read something like: To appreciate the beauty of a book, it is necessary to go through the (sometimes excruciating) process with the writer.

But I don’t agree with that at all!  As a reader, I can absolutely appreciate the beauty of a book without having personally struggled with the plot, the revisions, the character development, or any of the other myriad challenges faced in the book-writing process.  In fact, the best bsnowflakes-908726-mooks are like a gentle snow where the words and plot and characters flow together so seamlessly that before long the whole landscape is dusted in white and fairly sparkles.  I can curl up and enjoy a book like this, getting lost in the magic that an author created.  That’s an amazingly beautiful experience.

Isn’t it the same with a snowstorm?  Do I really have to stand out in the cold to know that no snowflake is identical, to realize that snowflakes are C.O.L.D., to take in the beauty of a flurry of snowflakes?  No!  I can stand at my window and know the truth about snowflakes, and appreciate their beauty (while staying warm).

Now, if I choose to go outside in the snow, my experience will be different (as it was when we all bundled up and went out to build tiny snow people and tried to sled that first year in North Texas–it wasn’t that much snow!).  I’d find a different kind of beauty.  It’s like being Snowflake Bentley and wanting MORE than the beauty of the storm.  He wanted to take the storm apart and look at the pieces.  That’s what writers do when they craft their books. We take one snowflake at a time and piece them together into a sparkling landscape of white.  Our hope is that readers will appreciate the beauty of the flurry and not be able to pick apart the plot, or see it as only pieces of a whole.  It’s my hope with every book I write that I’ve created a landscape that a reader can and will get lost in.

So, what do you think?  Do you have to be outside in the cold to really appreciate a snowflake?

~ Melissa

About Melissa Bourbon

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has written two romantic suspense novels, a light paranormal romance, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, a practical marketing guide for authors.

Connect with Melissa

Website: MelissaBourbon.com

Facebook: Author Misa Ramirez/Melissa Bourbon

Twitter: @MelissaBourbon

Goodreads: Misa Ramirez / Melissa Bourbon

killing_notionA Killing Notion:
A Magical Dressmaking Mystery (Magical Dressmaking Mysteries)

5th in Series
Cozy Mystery
An Obsidian Mystery (April 1, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451417206
E-Book File Size: 1819 KB
Amazon ASIN: B00F9EZBXS
B&N ISBN-13: 9781101602744
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It’s homecoming time in Bliss, Texas and the girls are working on their mums. Like everything in Texas these mums are big!! Harlow Jane Cassidy, owner of Buttons & Bows, is not only helping with the mums, she is making several homecoming dresses. Gracie has decided to make her own dress. Then when Gracie’s date for the dance is accused of murder Harlow realizes Gracie is going need much more than help with her dress. Harlow needs to patch together the clues and clear the boys name before the whole homecoming celebration is ruined.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

First things first I had to do a little investigating into the Texas size mums, we don’t have anything like it to my knowledge here in Wisconsin. I found some pictures of them on The Style Sisters blog. Why these girls would want to cover up these beautiful dresses or wear this kind of thing around their neck all day is beyond me but it seems to be quite the tradition.

Now Melissa has crafted quite a mystery while her characters were crafting their mums. Gracie has grown up so fast and this story really zones in on her character. Her boyfriend is not only struggling with his father’s death, he is also the cops prime suspect.

This story has a very interesting twist that I started to put together just a bit ahead of Harlow and then another huge twist at the end that took me completely by surprise.

This is one of my favorite series as I too come from a background full of seamstresses and before my accident sewing and crafting were the way I spent all of my free time. I love all the characters and the way all their charms work. MeeMaw continues to make her presence known and she just tickles my heart.

As soon as I finish a Melissa Bourbon story I always want more. These are characters I truly hate to leave behind as I wait for my next trip to Bliss. This is a wonderful series, start at the beginning and sit back and curl up with some great cozy mysteries.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PLUS

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.

Leave a comment for Melissa for 5 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 April 16, 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 072014
 

PILLOW STALK 2
Pillow Stalk
(A Mad for Mod Mystery)

First Book in Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by Henery Press (March 4, 2014)
Paperback: 270 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1940976068
E-Book File Size: 537 KB
ASIN: B00IPSZJP0
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Interior Decorator Madison Night has modeled her life after a character in a Doris Day movie, but when a killer targets women dressed like the bubbly actress, Madison’s signature sixties style places her in the middle of a homicide investigation.

The local detective connects the new crimes to a twenty-year old cold case, and Madison’s long-trusted contractor emerges as the leading suspect. As the body count piles up like a stack of plush pillows, Madison uncovers a Soviet spy, a campaign to destroy all Doris Day movies, and six minutes of film that will change her life forever.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As a Doris Day fan myself I really enjoyed this story. My mom and I  loved watching her movies. There are many nods to the films throughout the book. The character names especially.

A classic cozy mystery with a protag that loves the 60′s era in everything from clothes to furniture and she she even looks a bit like Doris Day. She is an independent woman with a terrific sense of humor that shines throughout the story. I feel like we have just scratched the surface with this character.

The story starts out simply with Mod Interior Decorator Madison trying to acquire the estate of a recently deceased woman but from there the story is set on its ear as a new murder connects to a 20 year old cold case. The plot twists and turns until I was totally confused. The author then gets me back on track and the clues all come together at what seemed a very rapid pace.

I am very interested in the next book in this series,THAT TOUCH OF INK coming out next month.  I am glad Henery Press has acquired these books and is re-releasing them because I missed them the first time around.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Find out more about Diane Vallere and her books 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.”

Feb 282014
 

grapes of deathGrapes of Death
(A Tangled Vines Mystery)

New Series!
Cozy Mystery
Midnight Ink (September 8, 2013)
An Imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Cover Illustration by Ken Joudrey
Cover Design by Kevin Brown
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738737522
E-Book File Size: 859 KB
ASIN: B00EA117RK
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

Elise Beckett’s family owns a vineyard in River Bend, Texas. Her boyfriend, Stuart, lives and works in Dallas. About a 5 hour drive apart. They had met through his work for the Texas Organic Garden and Research Foundation. Elise is trying to develop a grapevine that can tolerate the Texas heat and droughts. They have been doing the long distance relationship thing for about 6 months with Elise doing most of the traveling. He has offered her a dream job in organic horticulture research, but her family is really counting on her to stay working in the family business. Since her dad died they need her more than ever. Her Uncle Edmond is no help, he was really upset when his brother left the whole vineyard to his wife and cut Edmund out completely. Every day Edmund comes up with a new plan to provoke the family.

Then Uncle Edmond’s body is found dead on vineyard land. At first it is thought it was an accidental drowning but the cause soon points to murder and every Beckett, even Elise, is a suspect. In fact there appears to be a long tangled vine of suspects. Elise just can’t leave things to her friend since childhood, Deputy Jackson (Jax) Landry. Hopefully she won’t become the murderer’s next victim.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
When I think of vineyards in the United States I think California, not Texas. I was excited to uncork this one and I was not disappointed. In fact I read it from start to finish in one sitting.

The first book in a new series is a huge undertaking because the author needs to not only introduce the characters and the setting but give readers an interesting mystery with plenty of twists and turns. Folger did that and more. The mystery was complicated and kept me guessing almost to the very end. My “aha moment” was just a bit before Elise’s.

Folger has laid a great foundation for the series to go forward and she gave us characters that we care about and want to see what direction they take. Plus she described the setting beautifully and even explained how hard it is to grow grapes in Texas.

All that being said we have just scratched the surface of these characters. The have plenty of room to grow from Elise and Jax, the main characters, to all the supporting characters of Elise’s family. I think this is going to be a very interesting series.

Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and curl up with this cozy as soon as you can.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


bookworld

Click the Book World Button to order
Grapes of Death

Thanks to the people at Book World  I have 1 copy to give away!

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Contest Will End March 14, 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

*Review Book Provided by Book World.

Feb 192014
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am excited to welcome author Elizabeth Lee here  today!

Elizabeth Lee author pic

A TOUGH NUT TO KILL
by Elizabeth Lee

 

When I began writing A Tough Nut to Kill I wasn’t sure a pair of grandmother and granddaughter protagonists was going to work as my investigators.  At first I thought: Lindy’s in her twenties, Miss Amelia’s seventy-seven.  A couple of generations apart.  I told myself: no interests in common—one’s an educated botanist, the other an elderly southern woman whose days consist of baking pecan pies for The Nut House, the family outlet for the pecans grown on their ranch near Riverville, Texas.

Lindy spends the warming spring days with her head in a botany book or tending the new species of pecan tree she’s developing out in her greenhouse, while Miss Amelia gossips and hands out advice left and right to the townsfolk.

I had to find where the women came together, were similar, shared interests, shared common goals.

a tough nut to killAnd it was right there in front of my nose.  Of course they shared the best of things, like most grandmothers and granddaughters do.  I found things that went so far beyond daily events, beyond education, beyond interests, the music they listened to, the friends they had.  Two women.  Related.  Tied by blood, by love of family, deep love and respect for each other, for friends and family.  Two women who shared a thirst for justice coming from past injustices they both had suffered.

It was going to be all right.  When Lindy found Uncle Amos, the black sheep of the Blanchard family who had disappeared over a year ago, dead on the cement floor of her greenhouse and then a family member was charged with the murder, it was no giant guess that this pair of southern women would get out there and chase down old lies and old enemies, hide evidence when they needed to, or do a line dance or two at the Barking Coyote Saloon if it will get them information from a bar maid.  From Riverville to a rehab facility in Houston to the offices of a Columbus, Texas, private detective, they dig up old murders, ferret out old injustices, and face down a killer.

Granddaughter and grandmother—southern womanhood at its best.

 ~Elizabeth

Thank you for stopping by  today Elizabeth!!

a tough nut to kill
A Tough Nut to Kill (Nut House Mystery Series)
A Brand New Cozy Mystery Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Robert Crawford
Cover Design by Diane Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425261408
E-Book File Size: 2589 KB
ASIN: B00DYX9KII
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Lindy Blanchard has devoted five years of her life to saving the pecan trees on her family’s farm—but someone is going to deadly lengths to see that she fails……

Welcome to Riverville, Texas, the heart of PECAN country. The Blanchard family farm is well known for its acres of pecan trees and also for their store, The Nut House, where they sell all kinds of yummy pecan treats including special pecan pies made daily by Miss Amelia. Miss Amelia’s granddaughter, Lindy, has been using her college education as a plant biologist to try to cultivate a pecan tree that is more resistant to drought to not only help her family but all pecan ranchers. But someone doesn’t want her to succeed and has even committed murder to try to put the Blanchard family out of business. The local sheriff is stumped and Lindy and Miss Amelia find themselves trekking all over the countryside trying to catch a killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is a fine debut to this new nutty series. The author has given us the most important ingredient of a cozy mystery – Quirky Characters! She has created some real treasures. In addition to the Blanchard family we have the Chauncey twins and Miss Ethelred Tomroy. There is also Deputy Hunter Austen, more hunky than quirky, he has been friends with Lindy since they were kids and its hard for them to keep secrets from each other. This comes in handy while trying to solve a murder but there is also room for this to grow into a more romantic relationship.

Lee has also put together a well thought out whodunit. Plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep the readers guessing. There is also a great deal of humor and Southern charm spread throughout the entire story.

The reader is also treated to a look behind the scenes of a pecan ranch and several recipes.

I really liked this story and am looking forward to more adventures with Lindy and Miss Amelia.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

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.

Leave a comment for Elizabeth for 5 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 5, 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.”

Dec 182013
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!

My friend, Liz Lipperman, has a new Clueless Cook Mystery out
and you are going to love it!!

I am so happy she could squeeze in time to visit tight before the holidays!!!

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS
By Liz Lipperman

 

liz lippermanFirst of all, I want to thank Dollycas for having me on her blog today. She’s such a diversified reader, and I love her reviews. Now onto the post.

Last week we had an arctic storm blow into the Dallas area that crippled the entire Metroplex for three days. I posted this picture on my Facebook page because it is so funny — and true about Texans and snow. But in our defense, we don’t see many snow/ice storms, and consequently, DOT has a limited number of snowplows to routinely clean up the roads the way you northerners have.

pic for 12182013

Plus we can go from sleeveless one day to ski clothes the next — which is exactly what happened here. It was 80° on Wednesday and 28° on Thursday after the storm arrived.

I tell you this because I had a rude awakening when I went into the grocery store Thursday morning intending to buy the food for our weather-related house arrest.

chickenThe grocery store I use didn’t look as bad as the one above, but it was severely depleted. They didn’t even have green peppers, for heaven’s sake. No red, orange, or yellow either. It made me wonder what people were eating while they were stuck in their houses. Since I live in Texas where we have a large Hispanic population and I was planning on making chicken fajitas and figured everyone else was, too, that explained the no peppers.

All this got me thinking about what stores in different areas around the country would look like in this situation. Would there be no oranges in Florida? No pizza in Chicago? No Kolaches  in West, Texas, where there’s a big Czech population? No hot dogs in New York?

Again this got me thinking — which is dangerous all by itself. Here in the United States, we have so many different cultural groups that influence what is marketed in different areas of the country.

So I did some more thinking about how this might relate to reading books— geez! (It’s a wonder I didn’t blow a brain fuse.) What if everyone only liked to read literary fiction? Or biographies? Or how-to books?

First of all, I would be dead meat, since I write mystery/suspense. But wouldn’t the world be a dull place if you walked into a Barnes & Noble with only those types of books. No Clive Custer, Janet Evanovich, or Nora Roberts. I, for one, would be devastated. Although my TBR pile is composed mostly of mysteries and thrillers, occasionally I venture out into other genres, especially those written by my friends.

Thank heavens we have so many choices, and the world is filled with people like you guys who read a book just because it’s good. Who get invested in the story because you fall in love with the characters and not because it’s a certain genre.

In the New Age of publishing there is so much more out there in all genres. Sometimes it’s even free. And prices have come down on a lot of books, especially digital downloads, all of which is conducive to trying new stuff and new authors.  I love that. It’s really all about good characters and good writing, anyway. The only difference between a paranormal mystery and a regular mystery, for example, is the way the story is presented. A killer is a killer even though he may be a dragon or have supernatural powers. Am I making my point or just confusing you?

I’ll close with a little story about my six-year-old grandson, who always gives me lots of material to work with. We were on a family vacation last summer, and I had popped a bag of popcorn that had been on the shelf for a long time. I followed the microwave directions to a T, but somehow, I ended up with burnt popcorn — and you know how bad that can smell. Anyway here’s the conversation between my grandson and me.

Him: “Nana, why’d you burn the popcorn?”

Me: “I did exactly what they told me to do.”

He crinkled his brow and asked, “Someone told you to burn the popcorn?”

See how words can be interpreted differently? And with that, I’ll end with a question. Are you eclectic with your reading preferences, or do you stick to one or two genres only? One lucky commenter will receive a copy of CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER, my latest cozy release.

~Liz

Liz is one busy author with several books coming in 2014 too!! Check out her webpage here to find out more about Liz and all her books.

chicken
Chicken Caccia-Killer
(A Clueless Cook Mystery) (Volume 4)

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Self Publshed (December 5, 2013)
Paperback: 236 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1494286064
E-Book File Size: 498 KB
ASIN: B00H2DZLHA
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

Forced to fight to keep her job as the culinary reporter at the Ranchero Globe, Jordan must cover the International Italian Festival coming to town. But along with the festivities and great Italian food, she has to deal with meeting her boyfriend Alex’s mother and sister for the first time.

When an arrogant Italian playboy falls to his death from a suite at a swanky hotel during a pre-festivities party and Alex’s sister Kate is charged with his murder, Jordan springs into action to find clues that could prove her innocence. But the real killer doesn’t appreciate that she getting too close. Can Jordan and her motley crew of friends thwart his efforts and catch the killer before he succeeds?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Liz Lipperman writes some of the funniest stories I have ever read and this one is no exemption. She puts Jordan is some of the craziest predicaments, dangerous and hilarious. Jordan is always right in the middle of the trouble, even when she doesn’t even have to cook.

Meeting Alex’s mother and sister had her nervous to begin with but then his sister just happens to have a fight with a guy right before he topples to his death. Jordan knows there has to be more to the story so she has to get involved in the investigation. She just can’t help herself. She also has a sidekick to help her investigate, Alex’s mother, which both hastens and hampers her efforts. Natalie is a hoot!!

This whodunit has plenty of twists and turns. Secrets are revealed and there are plenty more suspects that just poor Kate. It seems the dead guy’s playboy status more than rivals Hugh Hefner’s. He was one busy fella!  Although some of enemies were also male! 

Chase away those winter blues with this wonderful cozy. Be sure to try out recipes too!! Carlita’s Italian Cake Balls sound scrumptious. There is also one for Ginny’s Braided Spaghetti Bread made with Rhodes Dinner Rolls. This put quite a smile on my face as this reviewer worked for Rhodes for almost 15 years :)

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the author I have 1 copy to give away!

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

Answer Liz’s Question!

Are you eclectic with your reading preferences,
or do you stick to one or two genres only?

One lucky commenter will receive a copy of CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER, my latest cozy release.

Contest Will End January 1, 2013 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.

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 022013
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

Today I am thrilled to welcome back Kylie Logan
to Escape With Dollycas with another brand new series!

Where do you get your ideas?

By Kylie Logan

Casey for LibraryIt’s a question authors get asked all the time, and every time someone asks me, I give the same answer: ideas come from everywhere. Sometimes I find them on TV, or in something I read. Sometimes they pop out of conversations I overhear, or talks I’ve had with my kids, or something I see in the grocery story. What it comes down to is every book is different, and each one starts in a different place.

But what about when it comes to a series? Where do ideas comes from for new series and how does an author know that an idea that might sustain one book can be carried over from book to book, made interesting and most important of all, kept fresh?

ChiliConCarnageSince I’ve been working on a couple new mystery series, these are questions I’ve been pondering. For my newest series, The A Chili Cook-Off Mysteries the simplest answer is easy enough–I was chatting with my agent one day and mentioned that my husband had won a chili cook-off.

“Hmmm . . . chili.” Even over the phone, I could hear the gears turning in her brain. “Chili would make an interesting mystery series,” she said. “Work something up.”

Chili? Really? As much as I enjoy eating it (and my husband makes the best!), I’d never really thought about turning the hot and spicy bowls of deliciousness into the centerpiece of a series. But the more I thought about it . . . yeah, chili cook-offs, I decided, would be fun to write about.

Of course, the planning process doesn’t stop there. With the basic idea in mind, the next thing I had to do was decide who was going to inhabit my chili universe. Again, I had a discussion with my agent, and one of the things she mentioned is how much mystery readers like to read about families.

Warm and fuzzy is so not my thing. So instead of choosing a family that works together at the chili cook-off, I decided to turn things around. I chose a heroine named Maxie who is edgy and sassy and a whole lot of fun and works at the cook-off dressed in a giant chili costume, dancing out front to draw in customers. I gave her a stuck-up, uptight half-sister named Sylvia who has spent her life being mad at Maxie for the simple fact that Maxie’s mother stole Jack (both the girls’ father) from Sylvia’s mother.

Oh, conflict! The stuff fun books are made out of, especially when the girls have to work together, live together in Jack’s tattered RV, and when they both have their eyes on Nick Falcone, the hunky ex-cop who now runs security for the Chili Showdown.

And as far as their father, Texas Jack Pierce? More decisions to make and more consideration of how those decisions would affect not just one book, but an entire series. How did Jack play into my plans? And how would what I did with him in this first book ripple through more stories? Because I needed Maxie and Sylvia to have to reluctantly work together, I decided that Jack would be missing and the girls have to take over his Hot Cha Chili Seasoning Palace as it travels from cook-off to cook-off until he’s found.

Those are the basic building blocks the series is build from and so far, so good. Chili Con Carnage book #1 is out now and I’m currently working on the follow-up, “Death by Devil’s Breath.” Yeah, Jack’s still missing. And Sylvia and Maxie, they hate each other more than ever.

With any luck, they’ll keep it up for many, many more books!

~Casey

About Kylie Logan
Kylie Logan has loved mysteries since she was a kid. Her dad was a Cleveland Police detective and he introduced her to Sherlock Holmes stories and gave her investigating experience when on his days off, they’d pile into the car and hit the streets to look for stolen cars. When he retired from the force, Dad became head of security for the Cleveland Public Library.

Crooks and books! Kylie comes by her love of mysteries honestly.

Kylie began her career writing historical romance and her book, “Devil’s Diamond,” was nominated for a RITA award as historical romance of the year by Romance Writers of America. She’s also written contemporary romance (as Connie Lane), young adult horror (as Zoe Danielsand Connie Laux) and she writes the popular Pepper Martin Mysteries as Casey Daniels.

Kylie is currently writing three different mystery series: the Button Box Mysteries(newest book is “Panic Button”), the League of Literary Ladies mysteries (“Mayhem at the Orient Express “) and now, the Chili Cook-Off mysteries. She can’t pass up an antique shop…there might be buttons in there! She can’t put down a classic book . . . even if she already knows the story. And she can’t say no to a good bowl of chili. Luckily, her husband is the world’s greatest chili maker.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually with her family and their two dogs, Ernie, an adorable Airedale, and Oscar, a rescued Jack Russell who came for a short-term stay and ten years later, is still around. Kylie says that those of you who have ever met/lived with/had dealings with a Russell will certainly understand how knowing him has increased her propensity for murder.

Links:
Webpage: www.kylielogan.com Also, www.caseydaniels.com

 

ChiliConCarnage

Chili Con Carnage
(A Chili Cook-Off Mystery)

Brand New Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Mystery (October 1, 2013)
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Miles Hyman
Cover Design by Diane Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425262412
E-Book File Size: 1151 KB
ASIN: B00BC21SH4
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Bean there…done that…

Maxie Pierce and her half-sister Sylvia are back on the Chili Cook Off circuit. Their daddy, Texas Jack Pierce, king of the chili cook-off circuit, has been missing for weeks. He has a bit of a reputation for chasing the ladies but to go off and leave The Palace in the hands of others is something her just wouldn’t do. People come from far and wide to buy his unique chili seasonings. Maxie was ready to leave Chicago but working side by side with Sylvia in the small quarters of the Palace and living together in an RV wad not what she really had in mind. She needs to find Jack and get the heck back to her own life as soon as possible.

Then a dead body literally falls on top of her and her half sister is the prime suspect. She is also being watched because the dead guy happens to be a guy she had drinks with the night before and things didn’t end well. In fact they had a very public argument just a few hours before he died. She needs to turn up the heat and find the real killer before things get too hot and spicy to handle.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
First thing first, our family chili recipe includes beans and no hot peppers :) or pickles??

Now about this delightfully hot and spicy mystery, I loved it!

Maxine is a fabulous character and Sylvia is truly something else. She is a woman with an ulterior motive who needs to be put in her place and Maxie is just the person to put here there. Maxie’s heart is in the right place but right now her life is a bit of a mess. Going forward this family dynamic could get to be quite volatile and I can’t wait. As they travel the circuit and hopefully a certain handsome security guard tags along you never know what could happen next. Family conflict will be almost as hot as the chili.

There is quite a group of people that travel the circuit and we met a few in this installment. I am sure we will get to know them better and meet others as the series continues.

In addition to introducing us to these fantastic characters Kylie Logan has plotted quite an interesting mystery with plenty of viable suspects. So many had means, motive and opportunity. This reader was surprised.

Kylie you are off to a great start with this one! I am looking forward to the next stop on the Chili Cook Off Showdown tour. I know it will be another tasty treat!

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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.

Leave a comment for Kylie for 5 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 October 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
WinnersWill 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.”

Jul 032013
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I thought the graphic for this feature needed an update to match my beachy theme.
I hope this one will make you want to cozy up with a good book too!

I am thrilled to welcome Melissa here today but she is swamped with a fabulous home remodel and the guest post didn’t come together. Custom-Fit Crime is a great addition to this series! Be sure to enter the giveaway!

a custom fit crimeA Custom-Fit Crime:
A Magical Dressmaking Mystery

4th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (July 2, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback 320 pages
ISBN-13 978-0451417190
E-Book File Size: 694 KB
ASIN: B0099D4RHG
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Harlow Jane Cassidy has her hands full planning and making the dresses for her mother’s wedding, her old friend Orphie has come to visit and one of her biggest dreams in coming true – her designs are going to be featured in big time magazine spread. She has things under control until a rival fashion designer dies in her shop, Buttons & Bows. Then a near miss shows Orphie may also be in danger.

Harlow has no choice but to untangle the clues and find a killer if she has any hope of saving her friend, the wedding and her business. She is going to need more than her charm to save the day this time!

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I grew up in a family of seamstresses so this series is one of my favorites. I was thrilled to see Harlow getting some recognition for her creations. Harlow, her mom, and MeeMaw just touch my heart stirring up fond memories of my own family.

Bourbon has created magical characters and Button & Bows is a dressmaker’s dream shop. She stitches them together with an enchanting mystery sure to please all cozy lovers.

In this installment Orphie comes to town with her own share of troubles. Harlow’s mother, like all Cassidy women, is STUBBORN, especially when it comes to her daughter, and it puts the wedding in jeopardy. Gracie is having some trouble adjusting to her charm. All this plus some snooty designers and their snotty models show up from out of town for a photo shoot and all heck beaks loose. Hold on tight, this Custom-Fit Crime will have you on pins and needles from the first page to the last.

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing (Bare-Naked Lola (A Lola Cruz Mystery)is available now), The Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox with Tonya Kappes, and has two romantic suspense novels.

Find out more on her website here.

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

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies 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.

Leave a comment for Melissa for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End July 17, 2013 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.”

May 032013
 

heard it through may

Heard it Through the Grapevine
(A Dead Sister Talking Mystery)

Brand New Series!
Mystery
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (May 8, 2013)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738736020
E-Book File Size: 808 KB
ASIN: B00C5H33M8

Sisters Tessa and Lainey Garcia weren’t on speaking terms. But now that Tessa’s dead, her wisecracking ghost is making up for lost time.

Lainey is a successful television personality and her career is really taking off but she has to put her everything on hold so she can return to Texas for her sister’s funeral.  When she gets there she comes face to face with her dead sister and I don’t mean the one in the casket. Tessa’s ghost is on the scene and the only one that can see and hear her is Lainey. Then comes the news that Tessa was murdered and her ghost begs Lainey and her other sisters to find her killer. Tessa and her ex-husband ran a winery together, Lainey decides to start her search there…

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is a mystery solved by a woman sleuth but I wouldn’t call it a cozy. Think of a mystery wrapped up in a soap opera with adult language and themes. I LOVED IT!!!!!

Tessa and Lainey may have been estranged for years but they interact as only sisters can. Tessa is a absolutely hilarious! She can crack wise all day long but the only one that can hear her is Lainey (and the reader of course). She had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

The relationships between all the sisters living and dead are so realistic. These sisters get on each others nerves at times, they fight and make up, disagree and pair off and gang up on each other. They keep each other’s secrets and blurt them out at the worse times. They are not perfect and have made mistakes, some serious mistakes, but the sisters stand up and support one and other. They also team up to find their sister’s killer. Tessa was no saint so there are plenty of people who may want her dead so catching the culprit is not an easy task.

There is also romance and soul searching in this story. Lainey needs to make some decisions. Traveling back to Texas makes her realize how much she has missed her sisters and others she left behind.

Lipperman has quickly become one of my favorite authors as she writes mysteries like this, cozies like Murder for the Halibut (A Clueless Cook Mystery) and thrilling suspense like Shattered. Her unique style shines through every one.

If you like your cozies with more of an edge you will love this book just like I did. 

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*Story has explicit language and content.

 

Find out more about this author at her webpage here. Follow her on

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. 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.”

readalattechallenge_zps01d248d02013EbookChallenge

Apr 052013
 

DeadPeasants_banner

I am thrilled this awesome author had time to
give us a little insight on what made him write books like this one!

DeadPeasants_authorDolly asks about my becoming a writer later in life, my brother and the family tradition:

I think I always knew I would eventually become a writer.  I dabbled in journalism in college, but by then my brother, Thomas (Tommy) Thompson was well on his way to a successful writing career, first as a reporter and then with LIFE magazine in its heyday.  I chose not to follow in his footsteps and went to law school at The University of Texas.

From there I moved to Houston, married and started the law firm that I still head.  With three kids and a full time law practice there were not enough hours in the day to write; so, I shoved the idea aside.

When my youngest son graduated from SMU, I decided to see if I could write a novel.  Having had my last formal training in freshman English, I was brazen enough to forego writing seminars and just sat down at the computer.  That led to my first novel, So Help Me God. 

My brother, by the way, left LIFE and published his first book when he was thirty-seven.  He went on to become an internationally famous best-selling author who died way to young with liver cancer.

It was twenty years after his death that I began So Help Me God. So, I suppose that it is something in our DNA that leads us into writing.  Whatever it is, I find I enjoy the creative process and look forward to my time at the computer (usually a couple of hours early in the morning before I head off to a full day as a trial lawyer).

~Larry

DeadPeasants_cover

Dead Peasants: A Thriller
Suspense Thriller
Thomas Dunne Books (October 2, 2012)
St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250009494
E-Book File Size: 465 KB
ASIN: B008VA736K

Dead Peasants: A Thriller

Synopsis: Lawyer Jack Bryant retires early to Fort Worth to kick back, relax and watch his son play football at TCU. Bored with retirement he opens a pro bono office in his RV. When Jack finds an elderly widow at his doorstep, clutching a check for life insurance proceeds on her husband but payable to his former employer, Jack files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A seemingly accidental death of his client’s husband thrusts Jack into a vortex of serial killings. He and his new love interest find themselves targets in the same murder for hire scheme. To stop the killings Jack must unravel what in their past makes certain people worth more dead than alive.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

RIVETING!!!

I loved this book! I sat down on a Sunday afternoon and started this book and hardly moved until I reached the last word.

I wish I knew an attorney like Jack Bryant. He has enough money to live comfortably forever and retires to put his son first. Something he hasn’t been able to do before because of his career. But his son is grown and while it is great having him around and watching him play ball, Jack needs more. He decides to give back to his community by helping those who need legal help but could never afford proper representation. An added bonus is his son being able to work with him.

I was personally touched by the man he helped with his mortgage foreclosure. This is happening all over the U.S. and the banks are winning because people can’t get help or get scammed by the wrong help. Scary to think the home you have had for years could be gone and you could be homeless.

The real meat of the story is the case he takes on for June Davis. Her husband Willie passed away and like always she is struggling to just get by. Then she receives a surprise from the U.S. Postal Service that in Jack Bryant’s hands could change her life forever. It will also open up a huge can of worms that will start to link together several unexplained deaths and will put his own life in danger.

Thompson has created fantastic well rounded characters and writes their stories in such a way that you are right there with them in the courtroom, on the streets and in his office RV. It also felt has if I was watching a movie, the pages were turning so fast.

A legal thriller that packs quite a punch!! This is one I would shout about from the rooftops if I could!! a perfect escape 5 STARFISH5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

I am thrilled to be able to give away a e-copy of this book!!

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.

Leave a comment for Larry Thompson for 5 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 April 19, 2013 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 book tour. 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.”

DeadPeasants_coverreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d0mystery challenge

Mar 292013
 

safe-from-harm-200
Safe From Harm
(A Sugar Land Mystery)

2nd in Series
Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (March 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Design by Judith Lagerman
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425253465
E-Book File Size: 593 KB
ASIN: B0099CVN4C

Safe from Harm

In this second installment of the Sugar Land Mysteries Preacher “Bear” Wells, his wife Annie Laurie, and their teenage daughter Jo get wrapped up in a death the rocks the town. Bear and his wife come home to find their daughter cradling the dead body of her friend Phoebe. Everyone believes Phoebe committed suicide, but Jo just can’t believe that. Why would Phoebe kill herself in their house?

Bear wasn’t comfortable with Jo’s new friend but Annie Laurie saw the good in her and the tragedy in her life. Phoebe’s mother has just died and she was forced to move in with her father, her stepmother and their children. Her father seemed to have a perfect life but all is not what it seems to be. Jo finds herself caught up in the mystery of this family and Phoebe’s death. Bear just hopes he can protect his daughter.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is not a mystery that hits you right in the face. The author has written a story that engages you in the characters first and the mystery is the subplot. We were introduced to these imperfect characters in Faithful Unto Death and quickly became invested in their lives. I like that there is a real family story outside of the questionable death of the teenager.

Jo has teenager issues and has disagreements/fights will her friends. She is starting to date and her dad is having trouble coping with that.  Annie has a big heart and it sometimes leads her down the wrong path. Bear tries to take on everything himself but his family and Detective Wanderly work hard to keep him in check. The church volunteers are not all as they appear. Some are better and some have secrets and issues. The characters are true to way things are in life.

This is a mystery wrapped up in a very heartfelt story driven by wonderful characters. I highly recommend this book and the first in the series as well.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
Stephanie Jaye Evans is a fifth generation Texan. She got her BA from Abilene Christian University and an MLS from Rice University. Her first book in the Sugar Land Mystery Series, Faithful Unto Death, was awarded the William F. Deeck—Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers and was a Library Journal Debut of the Month. The second in the series, Safe From Harm  released on March 5, 2013. She lives in Sugar Land, Texas with her long-suffering husband and pug dogs. Find out more on her webpage here. Follow her on:

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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.”

safe from harmreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d0mystery challenge85941

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