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Posted in 2021 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Sand Trapped: Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series by Joanna Campbell Slan #Review / #Giveaway @joannaslan Great Escapes Book Tour

Sand Trapped: Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series
by Joanna Campbell Slan

About Sand Trapped

Sand Trapped: Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Florida
Publisher: Spot On Publishing (May 16, 2021)
Paperback: 292 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8503202564
Digital ASIN: B091S4S2MW

A Cozy Mystery That’s a Real Hit!


First they warned Jocelyn Johnson.


Then they ticketed Jocelyn Johnson.


Then someone murdered Jocelyn Johnson.


And Cara Mia Delgatto was looking for a lost ball when found Jocelyn “JJ” Johnson face down in a sand trap. Gave a whole new meaning to “take a drop.”


It wasn’t a surprise. The neighbors hated JJ for the reckless way she drove her golf cart. Sure, she lived on the grounds of a swanky golf club, and yes, she had tons of money, but JJ ruined flowerbeds, terrorized grandkids, and made a nuisance of herself.


Except…except…she’s quiet now. Lying there in the dirt at Hole #6. Someone bashed in JJ’s head. (Who would risk ruining an expensive Homna golf club like that?)


Cara doesn’t want to get involved. But when Gerta Hunsickler is named the prime suspect, and Gerta’s husband is so angry at his wife that he’s starting divorce proceedings, Cara can’t sit on her hands. She knows what it’s like to be unfairly accused. So she promises to take a swing at it and see if she can hit a long drive down the fairway of justice!


Meanwhile, back at The Treasure Chest, Cara’s friends are busy creating fabulous and fun Mother’s Day gifts. There are two brides-to-be working for Cara, and their two mothers-in-law-to-be have decided not to play nice. Can you say, “Mama’s boy” ten times really fast? I thought you could.


If you love warm-hearted, clean books, that feature female amateur sleuths, fur babies, family, and friends, you’ll love this charming DIY/recycling/upcycling series set on the Southeast Coast of Florida.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Jocelyn Johnson wasn’t a good neighbor. She pushed people’s limits and she broke rule after rule. So when she is found dead in a sandtrap on the sixth hole not a lot of tears were shed. Cara is sorry she agreed to be her friend’s teammate in a golf tournament because again she finds herself knee-deep in another murder investigation. Just what she didn’t need as her store, The Treasure Chest is gearing up for Mother’s Day and the merchandise is flying off the shelves. She also has two brides to be on pins and needles as their future mothers-in-law are coming to town. She has done it before, she will just have to multitask and putt the murderer right into a jail cell while not shanking all her other duties.

Cara Mia Delgatto owns The Treasure Chest,  specializing in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed goods. She has a great group of friends working for her. It appears that over the course of the series they have become more like family. They support each other in everything they do, even helping Cara catch a killer. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters. They are well developed but still have room to grow as the series continues.

The Treasure Chest is a very interesting shop. It is well stocked with a variety of items but I was pleasantly surprised that they have pet memory items and Cara is working to increase the products she has to offer. I also enjoyed the descriptions of all the places Cara traveled, her home, her store, the Sandy Ridge Golf Club, and more. This area of Florida sounds like a wonderful place to live sans the crazy neighbors and the murder.

The murder mystery was very well done. Joanna Campbell Slan weaves the main plot together with the subplots very nicely. There is always something happening and the murder has some really great twists. The big reveal was done in a fantastic way and I was surprised by whodunit.

I have read other books by this author but this is the first book in the series I have read but it won’t be my last. I am so happy that the author wrote the story so I new readers won’t feel lost or pressure to read the previous books in the series prior to reading Sand Trapped. I do hope to read the rest of this series and more books by this author.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Joanna Campbell Slan

“Our best friend, our next-door neighbor, and ourselves with just a touch of the outrageous.” That’s how RT Book Review describes Joanna’s protagonist, Kiki Lowenstein. The truth is that’s a pretty good description of Joanna Campbell Slan as well.

Joanna is a New York Times Bestselling, USA Today Bestselling, and Amazon Bestselling author as well as a woman prone to frequent bursts of crafting frenzy, leaving her with burns from her hot glue gun and paint on her clothes. And the mess? Let’s not even go there.

Otherwise, Joanna’s a productive author with more than 80 written projects to her credit. Her non-fiction work includes how to books, a college textbook for public speakers, and books of personal essays (think Chicken Soup for the Soul).

Currently, she writes five fiction series: The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Agatha Award Finalist, contemporary, St. Louis setting, crafting), the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series (contemporary, Florida setting, DIY, and recycling), the Jane Eyre Chronicles (Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 1830s England, based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic), the Sherlock Holmes Fantasy Thrillers (late 1800s, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s books), and the Zen Cozy Mystery Series (launch 2021).

A former TV talk show host, college teacher, and public relations specialist, Joanna was one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. She won a Silver Anvil for her work on the original FarmAid concert to benefit farmers.

In her ongoing quest never to see snow again, Joanna lives with her husband and their Havanese puppy, Jax, on an island off the coast of Florida. You can email her at or visit her website at

Author Links

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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.”

Posted in Giveaways Saturday Surfin'

#FlashbackFriday – #ReviewRewind – Pulp Friction (A Cider Shop Mystery) by Julie Anne Lindsey #Review / #Giveaway @KensingtonBooks @JulieALindsey

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

Real-life has cut into my reading time lately so I didn’t get a book read for this week’s Flashback Friday. So I am rewinding my review of Pulp Friction by Julie Anne Lindsey. The next book in the series, The Cider Shop Rules will be released next Tuesday. 

Pulp Friction (A Cider Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – West Virginia
Publisher: Kensington (April 28, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 149672349X
ISBN-13: 978-1496723499

Nothing’s sweeter than a fruitful family business, and for Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe, that means Smythe Orchards in Blossom Valley, West Virginia. But this year’s apple crop is especially juicy—with scandal . . .




Thanks to Winnie’s new cider shop, Smythe Orchards is out of the red and folks can get their fix of the produce and other delectable products they love all year round. The locals are even booking the shop for events, including a June wedding! Winnie couldn’t be happier to see the barn filled to the rafters for the big bash—until her doting ex, Hank, is caught in a heated argument with the groom. Winnie plans to scold Hank after the party, but spots him running off instead. And when the groom turns up dead, apparently hit by the honeymoon getaway car, Hank is the main suspect. Now Hank is on the lam, and it’s up to Winnie to get to the core of the truth—before the real killer puts the squeeze on her . . .


Dollycas’s Thoughts

We are back in Blossom Valley just in time for a wedding at Smythe Orchards. Winnie’s is so excited to have her new cider shop used for weddings and local events. She knows this is the way to make the orchard fruitful and helps keep the place open year-round. But this time, the wedding ends on a sour note, and Winnie’s ex Hank right in the middle of it. He had a dust-up earlier with the groom and now that groom is dead. Winnie knows she should stay out of it but finds herself slicing through the clues to juice the real killer before Hank winds up behind bars.

I loved the first book in this series, Apple Cider Slaying, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. The author exceeded my expectations.

I find Winona Mae Montgomery to be an excellent protagonist. She is smart, and for the most part, thinks things through but like all amateur sleuths just sometimes finds herself in the thick of things she never imagined could happen when she leaps into something. Her friend Dot is a reliable sidekick and a strong character in her own right. Winnie is close to her grandmother and they make a great team running the orchard. We learn some new things about Sheriff Colton Wise as he and Winnie grow closer. Hank is still hanging around and is sometimes his own worst enemy. They are also several animal characters that have their own unique personalities. What I love is all the characters are engaging and realistic in their own ways. They continue to grow and become more endearing.

The mystery was very intriguing and unfolded at a perfect pace throughout the book. There were plenty of suspects and twists and turns and a real edge of your seat moment to grab my attention and hold on tight. I wasn’t totally surprised when the killer was revealed but I had discarded this person earlier.

I love the apple orchard theme. I love visiting local orchards and we can never have enough apples in the house.

A well-plotted mystery, wonderful characters, and a terrific setting make Pulp Friction a must-read.

I do encourage you to read Apple Cider Slaying too so you can get to know these characters from the beginning.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of Apple Cider Slaying here.


About the Author

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. When she’s not creating new worlds and organizing the epic adventures of fictional characters, Julie can be found carpooling her three kids around Northeastern Ohio and plotting with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Visit her online at

Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest – 
Coming July 27, 2021

Coming Soon from Julie Anne Lindsey

Also by Julie Anne Lindsey

Find more by Julie Anne Lindsey here.

I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of Pulp Friction!

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The copy will be sent directly from Amazon US.

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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.”

Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts

Music is Murder: A Musical Murder Mystery by B.J. Bowen #GuestPost / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Music is Murder: A Musical Murder Mystery
by B.J. Bowen


I am delighted to welcome Barbara Bowen to Escape to Dollycas today!

Many Musings, Mostly Musical: The Origin Story

By B.J. Bowen

My cozy series, Musical Murder Mysteries, began twenty-five years ago. I was a professional musician and had loved cozy mysteries for years. A symphony orchestra seemed a perfect setting for a mystery, with its intrigue, and air of elegance. At that time, I wasn’t expecting to write seriously, but wanted to let off steam and escape to a different world. I once saw a list of a hundred professions, ranked by the most satisfaction experienced by its employees. Symphony musicians were number seventy-six, just above prison guards at seventy-seven; writers were above that, but I don’t remember exactly where.

When I had the opportunity, I joined a writer’s group. I was awed by the other writers! They were imaginative problem solvers, able to think up twists and turns, while teaching the basics of writing by example. They also taught diligence. You had to have a certain number of pages written, or you couldn’t participate.

When that group disbanded, missing my fellow writers, I put Music is Murder in a drawer and forgot it.

Then the symphony folded, and I had to find another job. The manuscript, when I thought of it, seemed to belong to another life.

It wasn’t until twenty years later, when I quit work to take care of my mother, who had dementia, that I took up writing again. I figured I’d sell the novel and write more to make my living. No problem, right?

After a few rejections, I began to study professional writing. First off, at 25,000 words, my “opus” was way too short. Secondly, writing wouldn’t pay unless you had a following, a publisher or the willingness to self-publish, and were very prolific. And, most importantly, marketing had changed in the era of Facebook, Twitter, and ebooks.

But writing kept me sane. I could go into a world of my own creation and escape monitoring medications, dodging mail scams, and changing the diapers of the woman who had changed mine. So I kept going, expanding the novel: developing the characters, giving them life and backstories, escalating suspense.

Then I found my current writing group. Recommended by a friend and consisting of published writers led by a former English teacher, they encouraged me, nurtured me, and were my friends. I kept at it. They helped me shape up the manuscript, begin to understand modern marketing, and find an agent, who helped me find a publisher.

So, how did the series develop? Playing in the symphony was a place to start. Working out the problems I wrote my characters into forced me to find solutions and gave me an alternate reality. Encouragement from others kept me going and contributed in no small way.

How do your accomplishments find life? Answer in the comments. I’m curious about your responses and look forward to reading your answers.

Thank you, Barbara, for visiting today! 

Keep reading to learn more about Music is Murder!


More About Music Is Murder

Music is Murder: A Musical Murder Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (June 8, 2021)
Paperback: 242 pages
ISBN-10: 1942078161
ISBN-13: 978-1942078166

When a symphony musician is murdered—bashed with her own bassoon—flute player Emily Wilson becomes the prime suspect. To save herself and secure justice for her murdered friend, she must find the killer.


In the close-knit, unforgiving environment of the symphony orchestra Emily makes her way through the tender egos and warped relationships of her fellow musicians to find tantalizing clues. Blackmail, the victim’s abusive ex-boyfriend, an angry neighbor, and a shifty Symphony Board member all lead her to feel she is on the right track.


With the dogged Lieutenant Gordon on her trail, she must flee from the police so she can continue her search. She unexpectedly finds a loyal female friend and the possibility of a new man in her life. But she must learn to trust again after her failed and abusive marriage. With time running out, will she be able to evade the lieutenant, face her personal demons, and clear her name?


About B.J. Bowen

Barbara Bowen is a freelance writer. She was a finalist and Honorable Mention in the 2018 Focus: Eddy Awards for her article, “Letting Go with Grace,” published in Unity Magazine. Ms. Bowen is also an accomplished professional oboist who played with the Colorado Springs Symphony for nineteen years.

Drawing on her quirky fellow musicians and orchestral experiences, she created the mystery series, “Musical Murders.” The first is “Music is Murder” (Release date, 6-9-21). The second is “Ballistics at the Ballet” (Release date TBA) The third is “Fireworks on the Fourth” (Release date TBA).

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, lives in Colorado with two canine friends, and has a stock of musical puns and a song for any occasion. Contact Barbara at: or

Author Links

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July 16 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
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Posted in 2021 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways New Release Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Cozy Wednesday featuring Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery by Holly Danvers #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery
by Holly Danvers

About Murder at the Lakeside Library

Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (July 13, 2021)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1643856324
ISBN-13: 978-1643856322
Digital ASIN: B08L5VF4X5

In this series debut perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James, Rain Wilmot must discover the killer, before the book closes on her life.


Rain Wilmot has just returned to her family’s waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain’s corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain’s mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer, on the premises.


The community of Lofty Pines starts pointing fingers at Willow, since she has been unusually absent from the library this summer. A fishy rumor surfaces when Rain learns that Willow had been spending a lot of time with Thornton. The town even thought they were having an affair.


While theories swirl about Thornton’s death, Rain takes it upon herself to solve the case to exonerate her mother. As more clues surface, Rain will have to piece together the mystery. But if she isn’t careful, she may be the next to end up dead in the water in Murder at the Lakeside Library, the first in Holly Danvers’ new Lakeside Library mysteries.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

In this first Lakeside Library Mystery, we meet Rain Wilmot. She has come home to the family’s cabin in Lofty Pines where she reconnects with her childhood best friend Julia. She hopes for a relaxing solitary summer to start to heal from the grief of losing her husband. Her friend Julia has other ideas. She expects Rain to open the library that is part of the family’s cabin. Rain’s mother usually runs the library but is traveling with no plans to visit Lofty Pinesthis summer. Julia has big plans so she needs Rain on board and opening the library.

Julia’s plans go seriously awry when they find a very dead Thorton Hughes on the property. Hughes, a real estate developer, had some big plans of his own and had made a few enemies around the area but he was apparently close to Rain’s mother, Willow. Her absence in Lofty Pines this year is questioned and some people think she had something to do with the man’s murder.

Rain decides to do some investigating of her own while rumors fly. She needs to be careful of she could be the next dead body found in Lofty Pines.

I was immediately drawn into this story by the author’s descriptions of Wisconsin’s beautiful Northwoods. I have been to several places like Lofty Pines, none that had a library in one of the cabins, but Ms. Danvers descriptions rang true and made it very easy to picture the setting.

I liked Rain and totally understood her need for a quiet place. I also understood Julia’s quest to not allow her friend to wallow in her pain, but boy, that Julia is a pushy woman. She made plans and expected Rain to just fall in line. There was one scene where Rain spends the night in the library and Julia arrives the next morning like a bull in a china shop. I wish Rain would have responded in a stronger way. More insight into Rain and her adult life would have been helpful. We know that the cabin was a special place for her but because her husband didn’t appreciate the area they rarely went there. Again, she allowed another person to make decisions for her. Her behavior really does show a pattern.

I did love the “Laker” attitude. The people that own property in the area and spend every summer there or live there full time are a very cool group. They reach out to help each other whether it be doing a little yard work or bringing treats to share on the deck or just have a listening ear when needed.

The mystery was a little murky for me. There was a bit of repetition and Rain seemed unfocused at times but again she is dealing with a loss and then found a dead body that was oddly connected to her family. Of course, she does get some assistance from Julia, and an elderly library volunteer Marge. They know the people and all the connections that Rain is now unfamiliar with because she has been away so long. The author has a very descriptive writing style but here some of the narration and descriptions get to be too much. I found the treasure found in the library to be a very interesting twist, revealing something important that did move the story forward.

I did have a few issues with the story but Murder at the Lakeside Library was a very entertaining read. It has laid the groundwork for what I hope will be a long-running series. I really liked how important literacy was to Rain’s family going back to her great grandfather, himself an author. The library is a wonderful family legacy. That gives this series a grand uniqueness that cozy readers will love.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Holly Danvers 

Holly Danvers grew up devouring every mystery novel on the shelf of her local library. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and 3 chickens, where she’s already plotting her next novel.

Author Links – 
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Coming in February 2022

Written as Holly Quinn

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Great Escapes Praise for Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery
by Holly Danvers

Author Holly Danvers has created an appealing physical environment and cast of characters that cozy mystery fans will want to revisit time and again.
~Book Club Librarian

Murder at the Lakeside Library is a blithe cozy mystery with a lakeside library, a curious corpse, a firm friend, uncertain rumors, and a boatload of books.
~The Avid Reader

I loved the cozy setting and the whole idea of “Lakers” (not the basketball team) and running a summer library. It gave me that On Golden Pond feeling but with a delicious cozy mystery wrapped up in it!
~Books To The Ceiling

What a fabulously fun start to a new cozy series. . . a fun delightful read full of clues mixed with characters you can really picture while getting to know them. 5/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

July 13 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST
July 13 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW
July 13 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
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July 16 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW  
July 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 19 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 20 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST
July 21 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
July 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
July 22 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
July 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 23 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
July 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, RECIPE
July 24 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
July 24 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 25 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
July 26 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  
July 26 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW


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

Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Interviews

70% Dark Intentions (Bean to Bar Mysteries) by Amber Royer #AuthorInterview / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

70% Dark Intentions (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
by Amber Royer

I am very happy to welcome Amber Royer back to Escape With Dollycas!

Hi Amber,

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi!   I live in McKinney, Texas.(Just north of Dallas).  My husband and I are coming up on our 25th anniversary.  I grew up in Southeast Texas, a ferry ride away from Galveston, where my bean to bar mysteries are set.   I have been teaching creative writing for over a decade now.  I love working with new students because I love getting to know new story worlds and characters, and see how these change as they are refined.  I was a librarian before I became an author coach, so books have always played a part in my life.

I am a nut when it comes to linguistics, and have built grammatical rules for several of the languages in my science fiction.  I am a language learner in both Spanish and Japanese.  I read/write enough Japanese to pass the practice test for the JLPT 5 (easiest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test), though I’ve not taken the official exam.

I am an avid herb gardener, and I love to cook.  I even have a cookbook that combines these two passions – There are Herbs in My Chocolate.  I gave the cooking style developed in that cookbook to Carmen, the employee Felicity just promoted to official pastry chef at the beginning of 70% Dark Intentions.  Now that we are beginning to be able to entertain again, I am looking forward to the opportunity to make cupcakes for people again.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

I’m adopted.  I’m working on the manuscript for the Bean to Bar Mysteries NO. 3, and I’ve uncovered that one of my characters is also adopted.  You will get to know a bit about that character in 70% Dark Intentions – though he has no idea yet that he’s adopted.

I’m left-handed.  They say people who are left-handed are supposed to have talent with visual arts and beautiful handwriting.  Well . . . my handwriting is awful.  It was so bad in high school that my teachers asked me to type instead (which explains why I type basically as fast as I can think).  I can read cursive, but I never completely learned how to write it.

I am surprisingly good at Beat Sabre (a VR game where you have Star-Wars style light sabers that you use to hit floating squares to the beat of music.  Kind of a cross between slashing at the squares and banging on the drums.)  I took years of dance classes when I was a kid.  So I guess now they’re not going to waste. LOL.

What is the first book you remember reading?

The first thing I can remember reading is Where the Wild Things Are.  It was probably read TO me, as opposed to me reading it myself, but it was the first one that made an impression.  This book exemplifies the Hero’s Journey – could there be any stronger call to adventure?  Or a character more changed by the experience?  Is it any wonder I fell in love with books?

What are you reading now?

I am just finishing up Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz.  I was hooked when I found out it was about a spice shop.  And when I saw it was set in Seattle, I knew there would be coffee.  And coffee is one of my favorite things.  (Bonus: I was interviewed last year by Erin Andrews of Indi Chocolate, who has a shop in Pike’s Place Market, where Pepper has her fictional shop.  It has been cool seeing that space brought to life in the story.  You can catch the Virtual Chocolate Salon re-watch at: ).

Next up on my TBR list is The Plot is Murder by VM Burns.  I am a total sucker for anything that feels like it is going to be a bit meta, and from the blurb, it feels like this book is going to have a UHF-esque imagination dovetailing into reality kind of vibe.

As far as nonfiction, I’m just getting into Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.  I want to get through the book before I watch the Netflix docuseries.  I love cookbooks that explore principles (my favorite cookbook ever is Ratio by Michael Ruhlman) and this one promises to take the concept in-depth.

What books have most inspired you?

I still think Treasure Island is a beautiful example of how to tell a story without wasting anything.  It is a big influence on how I think about putting together the different elements of storytelling.

But this time I want to talk a bit about Jane Austen.  (Felicity, my protagonist in the Bean to Bar Mysteries, is an Austen fan.  Go figure.  In Book 2, Felicity forms a friendship with another character in part because they both appreciate Austen.)  It is often said that story is character, and I believe that this is true.  Austen is a master of psychologically examining her characters, which is why these stories endure and get adapted in different formats.  Trends in structure have changed since Austen’s day (compare the book version of Emma, where the big climactic scene with Knightley takes place over 100 pages from the end, versus the more recent movie versions, where that scene comes at the end) but the way the characters are drawn as people – and the characteristics inside those psychological profiles that make us viscerally feel the romantic chemistry between her leads – doesn’t change.  Austin is probably more of an influence on my writing than I realize, since no matter what kind of story I try to tell, my characters all wind up with awkward/complex friendships and compelling love interests.

Mysteries that have inspired me include:

Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels.

Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series

Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series.

Dorothy Cannell’s Ellie Haskell series.

Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie Bear series.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I’ve always loved reading them.  I feel like all fiction has an element of puzzle to it, as we figure out the plot along with the characters.  Mysteries to me are the most direct expression of this, which is why I think as a reader, it is so easy to get caught up in them.  But they are anything but direct to write.  You have to get to know the characters so well that you can see how each one of the possible suspects COULD have an element of darkness inside that would allow that individual to be a murderer – while at the same time making all the innocent ones likable enough that readers are okay with them showing back up in the next book.  The plot has to be logical, and yet surprising.  When I was a teenager, one of my first attempts at writing a novel was about half of a mystery manuscript.  I just didn’t have the writing skill at the time to pull it off.  But that convinced me for a long time that I COULDN’T write a mystery.

It wasn’t until I’d written a lot of other things that I took another stab at writing a mystery. (Pun mostly intended.)   Felicity was a character who demanded to be written.  She’s inspired in part by a number of different chocolate makers I’d met while researching and marketing the Chocoverse books.  But a lot of her is also me, getting to talk about a fictionalized version of the area where I grew up and food that I love.  The mysteries she finds herself involved in serve as a vehicle for Felicity moving towards understanding herself and what she wants in life.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I write on my laptop, so I’m more of a will-travel-for-inspiration kind of writer than having any one set place.  (I’ll write in the back seat of a moving car, since the glare of a laptop   Over the past year, I’ve been more or less grounded, so most of my writing has taken place in my living room.  I LOVE writing in coffee shops, though.  (And I hope to get to start doing that again soon!)  I used to meet up with some other writers at this little boba tea and ramen place, and I miss that vibe. I’m one of those people who has to have a bit of noise in the background to get anything done.  I have a desk in our home office, but it faces a blank wall.  Basically, I only use it if I am working on a project where I can bounce ideas off my husband, or if I’m doing something via Zoom, so there are other people virtually hanging out with me.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Writers are observers.  We take in elements of the world, and sometimes these memories can rattle around for years before they show up in a project.  I love the ocean and the beach, so writing about this setting is a no-brainer.  Galveston wildlife shows up in 70% Dark Intentions, and growing up, I visited Sea Rim State Park (on the mainland, not far from Galveston) and Galveston State Park a number of times.  There are alligator observation stations in both, and this inspires part of the story.  Sometimes you see something and it sparks an idea immediately.  But sometimes it’s a combination of both.  Another wildlife element that shows up in this book is the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  When we visited Galveston to film some clips for the Book 1 trailer, we came across a number of the Turtles About Town sculptures – which highlight these endangered turtles, and their nesting on the island.  This came together in my mind with a visit Jake and I took about a decade and a half ago to a turtle sanctuary in Acapulco, where we got to see baby turtles awaiting release back into the ocean.  This sparked another way wildlife shows up in the plot of this story.

When I build characters, I usually start with a name and a few details, and I write a little from that person’s point of view.  Once I feel like I know a character well enough, I do a character interview and find out what they want out of the story, what they’re afraid of and what they value.  I don’t intentionally model characters on real people, although I’m sure traits from people I know show up in my fictional people.  I have had friends assume they are certain people in my stories, and I can sometimes see why they might think that, even though this was not intentional.  When I envision a project, I usually do picture one of my friends who would particularly enjoy it.   I’ve borrowed those friends’ names – with permission, of course – for the protagonists of some of my stories.

Writers are often told to write what they know, or to write what they want to understand.  Ind that’s true.  My story ideas are a mix, really, of things I know, things I want to know, things I’d love to tell my friends and cool things I uncover while living life.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

My biggest challenge is still narrowing the story down to a reasonable word count.  There are so many aspects to any story, and particularly to cozy mysteries – which have tons of support characters and suspects and a whole community to explore, not to mention possible love interests.  It’s hard to narrow it down to just the characters who are relevant to the current installment of the story, and to focus subplots so that they don’t overtake the main plot.

What do you think makes a good story?

Story is about people and conflict.  Most often that means people in conflict with each other.  And there has to be something at stake in the conflict that both characters want desperately – and that is weighty enough to be worth a reader’s time.  That what draws us in and keeps us reading.  A GREAT story changes the characters along the way, so that the events of the story shakes them to their core and changes who they are and how they look at life.

There also needs to be an element of uncertainty.  If we can easily guess the outcome of a story early on, there’s no puzzles to figure out.  If it’s obvious who wins and how, we can’t worry for the characters – or with them.

For a cozy mystery, the character also needs a reason to solve the particular murder at the heart of your story.  Maybe she cares about the person suspected, or is suspected herself, or somehow her reputation or her business is at stake.  In most cozies, the protagonist isn’t solving the mystery as part of her job.  So you need to manufacture a reason.  If the sleuth has nothing at risk, we won’t believe that she cares so much about solving a murder, when there are other people on hand with catching killers in their job descriptions.  This time, I dealt with this by attaching the disappearance of one of Felicity’s employees to the events surrounding the murder.  And I’m having Felicity try to resist getting involved – even though the people in her life assume that having solved one murder that happened on her premises, she’s bound to investigate this second one.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

I think all my characters have a little of me in them – even the bad guys.  Demographically, Felicity is most like me.  I gave her a Cajun side to her background, because I wanted to get to pepper the series with food references and flavors of my childhood.  Felicity has a good heart, and she genuinely feels bad when she makes mistakes while investigating.  And like me, she loves books and reading and a good cup of coffee.  But unlike me, she’s good at chemistry, and has a medical background, while I was too squeamish to even do my own experiments in high school biology.  Which makes her strong and cool in a crisis, whereas I tend to go into panic mode.

Psychologically, I’m more like Autumn Ellis, Felicity’s best friend.  Autumn is a former mystery writer, who wanted to be a poet since she was a little girl.  She and Felicity met in eighth grade, when they were both doing UIL Poetry competitions.  She’s more intuitive than logical.  She speaks her mind – sometimes without regard for the consequences.  And like me, she’s an extrovert who works from home, which means she needs routines for social interaction – and she gets terribly excited when she gets invited to a party.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

My protagonist is a bean to bar craft chocolate maker, with ties to the chocolate making world.  Between books, she travels to work with farmers growing cacao in different countries – and elements of that wanderlust come home with her and show up in the books.

The Bean to Bar Mysteries boarder on the more actiony side of cozy, with one of Felicity’s love interests being a former bodyguard.  And in this one, one of Felicity’s employees goes missing at the same time as the murder.  70% Dark Intentions deals directly with the fallout of the first book in the series, where after being threatened by the murderer, someone in Felicity’s life has developed issues with self-confidence.

There is also a focus on character development for Felicity herself, as she continues to cope with the grief in her backstory that brought her home in the first place – and the fact that her friends’ lives keep changing around her.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

I’m already drafting Bean to Bar Mysteries No. 3: Out of Temper.  Book 1 dealt with the Gulf Coast’s tempestuous weather, and Book 2 deals with Galveston’s wildlife.  Book 3 is going to bring in elements from Galveston’s cruise ship terminals.  Which means a lot of the characters from the first two books are going to get to go on a little boat ride, when Felicity gets invited to do chocolate making demos and tastings on board a cruise.

I’m also working on a manuscript involving time travel and Impressionist art.

Thank you Amber for visiting today!

Keep reading to learn about Amber’s new book! 

About 70% Dark Intentions

70% Dark Intentions (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher – Golden Tip Press (July 20, 2021)
Paperback: 266 pages
ISBN-10: 1952854105
ISBN-13: 978-1952854101
Digital ASIN : B091KMVY8P

Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is bringing in plenty of customers – in part due to the notoriety of the recent murder of one of her assistants, which she managed to solve. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Her new assistant, Mateo, even gets along with Carmen, the shop’s barista turned pastry chef. Felicity thinks she’s learning to cope with change – right up until one of her friends gets engaged. Everyone’s expecting her to ask Logan, her former bodyguard, to be her plus one. But even the thought of asking out someone else still makes her feel disloyal to her late husband’s memory — so maybe she hasn’t moved on from her husband’s death as much as she thought.


Felicity isn’t planning to contact Logan any time soon. Only, Felicity finds ANOTHER body right outside her shop – making it two murders at Greetings and Felicitations in as many months. That night, Mateo disappears, leaving Felicity to take care of his pet octopus. The police believe that Mateo committed the murder, but Felicity is convinced that, despite the mounting evidence, something more is going on, and Mateo may actually be in trouble.


When Logan assumes that he’s going to help Felicity investigate, she realizes she’s going to have to spend time with him – whether she’s ready to really talk to him or not. Can Felicity find out what happened to Mateo, unmask a killer, and throw an engagement party all at the same time?


More About Amber Royer

Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.

Author Links

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Posted in My Reading Itinerary Monday

My Reading Itinerary Monday! – Week #29 – 2021

Welcome to My Reading Itinerary Monday!

Where are your books taking you this week?

I will be traveling to Illinois, North Carolina, and West Virginia!

Here’s what I read and what I have planned for this week.

Escapes Completed

Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery
by Marc Jedel
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – October 11, 2018
Setting – California
For the Alphabet Soup July Mini Challenge and Flashback Friday!
My Review

Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery
by Holly Danvers
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – July 13, 2021
Setting – Wisconsin
I will feature this book this week for Cozy Wednesday!

Sand Trapped: Book #6 in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series
by Joanna Campbell Slan
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – May 16, 2021
Setting – Florida
The Great Escapes Tour stops here this Saturday!

Scheduled Escapes

Body Over Troubled Waters: A Cozy Mystery
(Welcome Back to Scumble River)

by Denise Swanson
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – July 27, 2021
Setting – Illinois
For Review

Dead as a Duck
by Colleen J. Shogan
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – July 14, 2021
Setting – North Carolina
The Great Escapes Book Tour stops here for Cozy Wednesday next week!

The Cider Shop Rules (A Cider Shop Mystery)
by Julie Anne Lindsey
Cozy Mystery
Release Date – July 27, 2021
Setting – West Virginia
For Review

Future Escapes

July 18 – 24, 2021 

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Please Share Your Reading Itinerary in the Comments below!
Happy Reading!!

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Posted in Sunday Salon / Sunday Post

Sunday Salon / Sunday Post – A Week in the Life of Dollycas – Weekly Rewind – New Arrivals


The Sunday Salon is a Facebook group that has become an
informal week in review gathering place for bloggers.

It is also a place to share our thoughts about things of a bookish nature.
You can also link up weekly on Readerbuzz.

SUNDAY POST The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
~ It’s a chance to share news~
A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


We had some nice storms pass through this week and we learned that our granddog Thunder really doesn’t like Thunder. With each rumble of thunder, he either forced himself under my desk or into Mr. Dollycas’s lap. When the workday was complete, he stayed close by, sitting on my feet most of the evening. We gave him tons of attention as did Daisy who wasn’t bothered by the storm at all.

This week also marked the first time Daisy stayed home while Mr. Dollycas took me to a doctor’s appointment and for lab work. We left Thunder in charge and they seemed to fare nicely. Nothing new was chewed up and no messes were made. They both seemed very happy when we arrived home about 90 minutes later. We do still need to work on Daisy’s car travel but it is way too hot to leave her in the car during our appointments so it is good to know Thunder is a good dogsitter.

Friday was Mr. Dollycas’s birthday and Son #2 and his family and Daughter #2 joined us for a cookout and cake. Work schedules kept the rest of the family away. Charlotte and Thomas kept us on our toes though, they are always into something. I sure do like it when they come to visit.

This week I was also invited to try out Storygraph. Similar to GoodReads it helps track your reading but it also helps you choose books based on your mood and your favorite topics and themes. It boasts Simple tracking and insightful stats. As you track what you’re reading, they learn about the type of books you gravitate towards the most with our wide range of charts and graphs. You can see how your reading develops over time and use that information to help you pick better books. One feature that drew my attention right away is Content Warnings. When you review a book, you can let them know if there’s any content within it that might be triggering for others. For me, suicide is triggering, and it would be great to know about this type of content before I started reading the book. There is a FREE plan and a Plus plan and it is easy to import your books from GoodReads. One con to the site – you have to know your friend’s user names to find them on the site – mine is dollycas. It looks like a future plan is to set up ways to invite people to the site and to have friend’s features. The site is definitely a work in progress and clearly can’t replace GoodReads, but I am going to watch this site as they add more features.

How was your week?

Weekly Rewind – July 12 – 17, 2021

Monday – My Reading Itinerary Monday! – Week #27 – 2021

Tuesday – The Mountain View Murder (A Wintergreen Mystery) by Patrick Kelly #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @pkfiction

Wednesday – Cozy Wednesday featuring The Weaver’s Revenge (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by Kathleen Ernst #Review / #Giveaway

Thursday – The Question Is Murder by Mark Willen #Review

Friday – #FlashbackFriday – Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery by Marc Jedel – #Review / #Giveaway

Saturday – Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery by Gloria Oliver #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @GloriaOliver

Plus – A Spirit Seeks Asylum (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery) by Lena Gregory #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @LenaGregory03


I hope you have a happy week!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Spotlights

A Spirit Seeks Asylum (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery) by Lena Gregory #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @LenaGregory03

I am so happy to shine the spotlight on A Spirit Seeks Asylum
by Lena Gregory today!

A Spirit Seeks Asylum (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
by Lena Gregory

About A Spirit Seeks Asylum

A Spirit Seeks Asylum (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Beyond the Page (July 13, 2021)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 190 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B097S55JFY

Cass Donovan is confronted by ghoulish crimes both old and new when a defunct asylum is the site of a fresh murder and a long-hidden injustice . . .


The old abandoned buildings of the Twin Forks Lunatic Asylum have always fascinated and frightened clairvoyant Cass Donovan, but she never dreamed her psychic abilities would be put to the test there. Then the new owner of the site tells her he plans to renovate it and turn it into a boarding school, and he’ll pay Cass handsomely to determine whether the place is haunted! Cass accepts his offer, but her search for hints of old ghosts soon has her looking for clues among the living when the man who hired her turns up dead.


Returning to the shuttered asylum looking for evidence of who may have wanted her client out of the way, Cass stumbles upon signs of yet another murder, even as she’s besieged by an onslaught of haunting voices from the past. When it comes to light that rival real estate developers have been hatching plans of their own for the property, Cass sees no shortage of motives for the murders, but she’ll have to find a way to quiet the disturbing voices from long ago and focus on the here and now, because whoever’s behind the killings has targeted Cass as their next victim . . .


About Lena Gregory

Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island. She recently relocated to Clermont, Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links – Newsletter – Website  –  Facebook – Facebook Page  – Twitter  –  Goodreads  – Pinterest

Purchase Links – Amazon     B & N     Kobo      Smashwords    Google Play 


Also by Lena Gregory

Great Escapes Praise for A Spirit Seeks Asylum (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
by Lena Gregory

With a perfect blending of chills, humor, friendship, and mystery A SPIRIT SEEKS ASYLUM shows us that the past never truly dies.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

Plenty of “woo~woo” to keep psychic fans interested, but also a good, solid plot and old-fashioned research goes into solving a present murder and related crimes . . . Another 5 star read, satisfying solution and promise of more good things to come!
~Laura’s Interests

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Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Spotlights

Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery by Gloria Oliver #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @GloriaOliver

It is my pleasure to shine the spotlight on Black Jade today!

Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery

About Black Jade

Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Dimension Palace Publishing (May 11, 2021)
Paperback: 246 pages
ISBN-10: 1733951164
ISBN-13: 978-1733951166
Digital (June 20, 2021) ASIN: B094PXSNPS

Could an old-fashioned ballgown be used to commit murder?


Daiyu Wu is aware that fear of the Yellow Terror has made her nationality a rare breed in the Lone Star State. Being Chinese and blind makes her doubly unique in 1930: Dallas. Despite these impediments, anyone who dismisses her for either fact does so at their peril.


One day, at her family-owned laundry business, Dai detects the scent of burned garlic. With the help of her companion, Jacques, the source is soon discovered. It is a green ballgown. The gown has money pinned inside it to pay for the cleaning, but oddly, it came with no address label to identify its owner. Her extensive knowledge leads Dai to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic. The perpetrator is trying to use White Laundry to hide the evidence. But no mention of foul play turns up in the newspapers, and there’s not enough proof to convince the police there’s been a crime.


Her curiosity and intellect stimulated like never before; Dai ignores the possible consequences and sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her canine companion, Prince Razor, and her confidant, Jacques Haskins. It’s either that or let the killer get away with it — assuming a spoiled popinjay, his jealous self-appointed girlfriend, and Dai’s overprotective parents don’t get in her way.


About Gloria Oliver 

Gloria Oliver lives in Texas, staying away from rolling tumbleweeds while bowing to the never-ending wishes of her feline and canine masters. Her previous works have been fantasy, urban fantasy, and young adult fantasy novels. Several contain romantic and mystery elements. Her short stories of speculative fiction can be found in many anthologies, covering things from the fantastic and strange to a Bubba Apocalypse.

Her latest release, “Black Jade – A Daiyu Wu Mystery” is Gloria’s first cozy historical mystery novel. This is her ninth published novel.

 Gloria is a member in good standing of BroadUniverse though she has yet to make the list for Cat Slaves R Us. In her spare time (what’s that?), she watches TV shows, movies, anime, plays PC games, and reads books.

 For some free reads, novel related short stories, sample chapters, appearance schedule and more information on her and her works, please drop by and visit her at

Author Links 

Webpage Amazon Goodreads LibraryThing Smashwords Blog Newsletter Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram

Purchase Links:

Amazon –  B&N – KoboApple

Smashwords – Black Jade – A Daiyu Wu Mystery, an Ebook by Gloria Oliver
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Posted in 2021 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways TBR Pile Challenge The Backlist Reader Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery by Marc Jedel – #Review / #Giveaway

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first book in Marc Jedel’s new series Fish Out of Water earlier this year and enjoyed it so much I purchased this whole series. 

Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
BGM Press (October 11, 2018)
Paperback: 287 pages
ISBN-10: 1732716404
ISBN-13: 978-1732716407
Digital: ASIN: B07H68L6XR

Mysterious attacks. Mischievous nieces. Can a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before bedtime?

When a freak accident hospitalizes Marty Golden’s sister and condemns him to babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad luck in Silicon Valley. Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere coincidence. Something must be done.

Too bad this quirky, fashion-backward uncle isn’t exactly hero material.

Convinced his sister is in mortal danger, this amateur sleuth follows clues to an oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion, Marty tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.

Can Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in order before he gets unplugged?

Uncle and Ants is the first novel in a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We meet Marty Golden when he is notified his sister has been injured in a scary car accident. She will be in the hospital for a while and Marty needs to step up and take care of her daughters. The man isn’t really equipped to be an all-star uncle but with a little help from his neighbor, Mrs. Kim, he is able to take care of the girls.

Back at the hospital, a mislabeled room leads to the death of one of the patients. Marty knows right away the woman was murdered and that his sister was the real target but with her unconscious, he is grasping at straws to figure out why. He finds a couple of clues on his sister’s calendar and decides to investigate on his own. He isn’t any better equipped for that task either but he soldiers on to get answers and protect his sister. Hopefully, he survives the endeavor.

Oh, my stars! Marty Golden is a hoot and half. Self-proclaimed computer nerd, Marty is a software engineer who writes code for Rover, a company that features a driverless car service. Just use their app to order your car and it shows up to take you wherever you want to go. With the right command, it will even wait for you and take you to another destination.

He works with Raj, who is from India who is learning American idioms. Their dialogues cracked me up. His sister Laney recently moved to town and is an HR consultant. She has two daughters, Skye is “twelve going on thirty” and Megan is “nine or eight, or possibly a mature seven”. Skye has a very interesting science fair project, the effectiveness of different feeding regimens of Dorymyrmex insanus, which translates to “crazy ants”. Megan tells her uncle her project is studying milkshakes and that is more up his alley.

These core characters are all cleverly written and genuine. The school secretary though is quite a character. She takes her job very seriously and that makes her a thorn in Marty’s side. I loved it! The police detective, a former underwear model, also takes his job seriously but doesn’t take Marty seriously at all.

The story moves along at a good clip as Marty travels to try to figure out what kind of trouble his sister is in. Sometimes he even shows up at work to do his actual job. His excursions even take him to a dream employer but before he leaves there he kills any option of ever actually working there. Another laugh-out-loud moment. I will say solving the mystery was not easy, Mr. Jedel twisted the clues up nicely.

I really enjoyed this story and the characters. Marty is an unusual protagonist and I was totally entertained by his antics. Uncle and Ants is a great debut for this author and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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About the Author

Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. He credits his years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley for honing his writing skills and sense of humor. While his high-tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, these were just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.

For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. As he’s gotten older, he’s encountered more funny and odd people and situations. This has made it even easier for him to write what he knows and make up the rest. It’s a skill that’s served him well, both as an author and marketer.

The publication of Marc’s first novel, UNCLE AND ANTS, gave him permission to claim “author” as his job. This leads to much more interesting conversations with people than answering, “marketing.” Becoming an Amazon best-selling author has only made him more insufferable.

 Visit his website,, for free chapters of novels, special offers, and more.

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