Jul 152016
 

barefoot beach

Barefoot Beach
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Maryland
New American Library (July 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Paperback: 400 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451418999
E-Book ASIN: B00G3L13K6
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Spend a summer at the beach with this enchanting and emotional story about love, loss, and the powerful bonds of female friendship…
 
The beach house carried some kind of spell, concocted of—I don’t know—salt air, sea grass and Old Bay seasoning that over the years had permeated its walls and floorboards. Whatever it was, the place cast fabulous magic.

For Nora Farrell, Tuckahoe, Maryland, isn’t just a summer refuge, it’s home—where she married the love of her life, decided to have a child, and has remained connected with her two closest friends. Even now, long after her husband’s passing, Nora reunites with Margo and Emine every June….

But this year, challenges invade the friends’ retreat. Even as Nora delights in teaching at her dance studio, she is shaken by the possible loss of her beach house…and by a tentative new romance. While Margo directs a musical at the Driftwood Playhouse, she finds her marriage on rocky ground. And Em, who relishes running her family’s café, struggles to handle her rebellious daughter.

With their personal dramas reaching a fever pitch, the women will discover that it isn’t only the beach that brightens their lives. Their bond with one another provides the ultimate magic.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Nora, Margo and Emine come together every summer at the beach.  This summer it seems each of their lives are in flux. Nora faces a job loss which could mean losing her summer home. Her son also takes a huge step in his life.  Margo thinks her husband is cheating on her. Emine is dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter and her husband brings his mother from Turkey to help get the girl in line much to his wife’s distress. She and her mother-in-law have never seen eye to eye.

I really enjoyed the way author Toby Devens writes but the book didn’t not have the easy flow I suspected it to have. It started slow and built to a comfortable pace but then it started to drag a bit in places. There was one truly exciting moment for a missing girl, but then it slowed again. Yet the ending seemed rushed and story lines were tied up quickly in a very predictable way.

All of the characters were realistic, flawed in their own way. I liked that. While Nora was the main character and things focus around her, I found Emine story almost more interesting. She and her husband are from Turkey and own a restaurant. Emine and her daughter are more Americanized than her husband. He believes in the old ways. Seeing this marriage and family life played out was compelling. I just couldn’t get into Margo’s story. The drama there was mostly self inflicted. Nora’s foray back into the dating world after her husband’s death was amusing and moving at times.

I also appreciated the descriptions of the scenes from the beach to the abandoned house. It was super easy to picture everything clearly.

This is a friendship story. After being friends so long these women knew how and when to support each other. When to butt in and when to let things settle themselves. All three were dealing with emotional issues and together they got each other through the summer.

This was a nice escape to what sounds like a gorgeous place.

satisfactory 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 To find out more about Toby Devens and her books visit her webpage here

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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Contest Will End JULY 29, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
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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.”

Jan 112016
 

thread and gone large banner640

Thread and Gone
by Lea Wait

thread and gone
Thread and Gone
(A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Maine

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (December 29, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617730085
E-Book ASIN: B00VQFKH8I
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Synopsis

When a priceless antique is stolen, murder unravels the peaceful seaside town of Haven Harbor, Maine…
 
Angie Curtis and her fellow Mainely Needlepointers know how to enjoy their holidays. But nothing grabs their attention like tying up loose threads. So when Mary Clough drops in on the group’s Fourth of July supper with a question about antique needlepoint she’s discovered in her family Colonial-era home, Angie and her ravelers are happy to look into the matter.

Their best guess is that the mystery piece may have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots, famous not just for losing her head, but also for her needlepointing. If they’re right, the piece would be extremely valuable. For safekeeping, Angie turns the piece over to her family lawyer, who places it in her office safe. But when the lawyer is found dead with the safe and ransacked, the real mystery begins. . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I was so impressed with this story. Could you imagine having a piece of needlework that could be from the 1500’s? What a treasure, until it goes missing. They had thought a lawyer’s safe would be secure but sadly it wasn’t and the attorney was killed when it was stolen. I think I would have gone over the edge.   But Angie and the Mainely Needlepointers keep their heads about them and do the research and investigate not only the provenance of the stitched piece but do everything to catch a murderer too.

This was one of those stories that once you start reading you just can’t stop. I really enjoyed all the history. The many Mary’s of Scotland and the connection to France and Maine. It was so interesting and tickled my memory. I probably learned all about it back in school and this story brought it all back and more.

Lea Wait also shines a light on the local economy which reflects the economy nationwide as we all are working harder just to get by. It really helped me to identify with the characters in the story. Gram is away on her honeymoon for most of this story but Angie is getting much more comfortable running the business. Sarah Byrne, one of the Mainely Needlepointers, played a big part this time with her knowledge of history and antiques. They were also assisted by fellow needlepointers, Dave Percy and Ruth Hopkins. Dave teaches biology at the high school. Ruth is elderly and arthritis in her hands makes it hard to do much stitching but she a huge help investigating.

Each chapter starts with verses that were stitched on samplers from the past.

“When idle drones supinely dream of fame the industrious actually get the same.” – Verse stitched on sampler  by Sally Alger at Miss Polly Balch’s School in Providence, Rhode Island, 1782

Another marvelous mystery from Lea Wait.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

lea1

About The Author

Lea Wait lives on the coast of Maine. A fourth generation antique dealer, and author of the Agatha-nominated Shadows Antique Print mystery series, she loves all things antiques and Maine, and she’s learning to do needlepoint. She also writes historical novels for young people set in (where else?) nineteenth-century Maine. Lea adopted her four daughters when she was single; she’s now the grandmother of eight, and married to artist Bob Thomas.

 

Author Link

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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.”

Jan 042016
 

cinnamon toasted large banner640

Cinnamon Toasted
by Gail Oust

cinnamon toasted
Cinnamon Toasted: A Spice Shop Mystery
(Spice Shop Mystery Series)

Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Georgia
Minotaur Books (December 15, 2015)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250011060
E-Book ASIN: B00Y7S5222
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Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Case in point: Piper Prescott’s former mother-in-law Melly. Beneath her twin sets and pearls beats the heart of a geek―a geek whose programming changes for the point-of-sale software in Piper’s shop have the owners of the program ready to make her an offer she can’t refuse. “Trusty” Rusty Tulley and Chip Balboa swing by Brandywine Creek―just in time for the town’s annual Oktoberfest, which has cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom flying off Piper’s shelves in record numbers. News spreads faster than a text message, and Melly is the toast of the town.

But it isn’t long before Melly’s status changes to public enemy number one when Chip’s body is found at the foot of her basement stairs. Questions start to pile up when handsome police chief Wyatt McBride arrives on the scene and the coroner sets the time of death for the previous evening. McBride wants to know why it took Melly so long to report the incident―especially after she admits to arguing with Chip about the contract he wanted her to sign. Piper knows Melly would never hurt a fly, so she enlists the help of her BFF Reba Mae to clear her name―but can they find the real killer before Melly gets sent away for good? A mouth-watering entry in Gail Oust’s delicious Spice Shop series, Cinnamon Toasted is sure to delight cozy fans of all stripes.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

In this third Spice Shop Mystery Piper’s ex mother-in-law gets to spend a lot more time with Piper. You see a dead man has been found at the bottom of Melly’s basement stairs and her home is a crime scene so she is forced to move in with Piper in her apartment above her shop. Of course she could go stay with her son in his McMansion but he his fiancee is doing a bit of redecorating. Then there is the fact that Melly is the prime suspect. The dead man was in town with his partner to buy an upgrade she had designed for their point-of-sale software. It seems Melly is a computer whiz. The fact that the man had died the night before and Melly called Piper first before the police has Chief McBride pretty suspicious. It doesn’t take long for Piper to enlist Reba Mae’s help in trying to find out what really happened.

Fall is a busy time in Brandywine Creek with Oktoberfest, high school football and a production of Steel Magnolias at the opera house. Piper is stocking up on spices for all the upcoming festivities, including a huge party featuring German cuisine, her daughter is a cheerleader who is sweet on the quarterback and Reba Mae has been cast to Truvy in the play. Now the have to add a murder investigation.

Gail Oust has created a mystery that is spiced up with quite a bit of humor too. Piper and Reba Mae’s hi-jinks will have you laughing out loud.

All the characters have grown since the start of the series. It was a joy to get to know Melly better. She really is quite a lady. Piper is so self assured. She has a great relationship with her former mother-in-law and her ex husband too, even though he left her for Amber, a much younger woman.  She does struggle with her daughter wanting to spend so much time with Amber but they are pretty close in age. 🙂 Her relationship with Doug, the veterinarian is starting to warm up although she and McBride have a little vibe too. Everyone needs a best friend like Rebe Mae. She follows Piper lead and they get in some crazy situations.

With a great plot and subplots that work Oust has given us an upbeat story cozy readers will truly enjoy. We learn more about spices too. There is also a gingersnap recipe in the back of the book I can’t wait to try.

enjoyable 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

gailAbout The Author

Friends often accuse Gail Oust of flunking retirement.  While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, Gail penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym Elizabeth Turner for Avon, Pocket, Berkley, and Kensington.  It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery.  Hearing the words, “maybe it’s a dead body,” while golfing with friends fired her imagination for the Bunco Babe Mystery series originally published by NAL.  In conjunction with Beyond the Page Publishing, the Bunco Babe series has  been republished in digital format as the Kate McCall Mysteries complete with new titles and a whole new look.  Gail is currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries for Minotaur/St. Martin’s.  When she isn’t reading, writing, or sleeping, she can usually be found on the golf course or hanging out with friends.

Author Links

Links:  www.gailoust.comGail Oust Author on Facebook, and Goodreads.

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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.”

Jan 012016
 

2016 brings a new feature to
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book!
9WbGnJTR

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I missed when they were first
released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

berried secrets
Berried Secrets:
A Cranberry Cove Mystery

1st in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Michigan
Release Date – August 4, 2015
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
An Imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425274507
E-Book ASIN: B00QH831Y6
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When Monica Albertson comes to Cranberry Cove—a charming town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan—to help her half-brother Jeff on his cranberry farm, the last thing she expects to harvest is a dead body.

It seems that Sam Culbert, who ran the farm while Jeff was deployed overseas, had some juicy secrets that soon prove fatal, and Jeff is ripe for the picking as a prime suspect. Forming an uneasy alliance with her high-maintenance stepmother, Monica has her hands full trying to save the farm while searching for a killer. Culbert made plenty of enemies in the quaint small town…but which one was desperate enough to kill?

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is a very intriguing mystery with vibrant characters.

We meet Monica Alberston. She has brother, Jeff, a veteran who was injured while deployed, leaving one arm basically useless. I can relate due to my own right arm left paralyzed after an accident 15 years ago. Jeff has a cranberry farm and also a store where they sell cranberry baked goods and related merchandise. The former owner, Sam Culbert, ran the farm while Jeff was overseas and it isn’t making a much of a profit as Jeff had hoped. Monica has come to Cranberry Cove to help Jeff turn things around. Finding a dead body in the cranberry bog is not what she had in mind though. In fact it may mean the end of her brother’s farm. Monica and Jeff share a father but have different mothers. We meet Jeff’s mother in this story too.

Monica is a strong, smart, woman, a perfect protag. She uncovers something very surprising when she goes over the accounts.  I really like Jeff. He has a battle ahead of him as he adjusts to his new reality. His mom, Gina is different than I expected. I was afraid evil stepmother thing would come out and am thrilled that I was wrong. She and Monica make a great team. The supporting cast is great too. Just to name a few, we have the VanVelsen sisters, identical twins, who own the candy store. They also have a black cat, named Midnight. Greg Harper owns the local bookstore. And Bart, owns on old fashioned butcher shop. They all have great depth for the first installment of a new series.

The story bends around and twists. The deceased wife doesn’t seem that upset, are there some secrets to be uncovered? Could she have killed her husband? The man may have owned a lot of property and be the mayor but he wasn’t very well liked. The police may think Jeff had motive but there are so many other possible suspects. Peg Cochan has written one heck of a mystery. She had me guessing all the way to the end.

A delightful setting and engaging characters including a great amateur sleuth has this series off to a fantastic start. Book 2, Berry The Hatchet, comes out May 3.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away my review copy!

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End January 15, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

Dec 292015
 

second chance at murderA Second Chance at Murder:
A Love or Money Mystery

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Spain
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Cover Illustration by Bill Bruning
Cover Design by Danielle Abbiate
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425271698
E-Book ASIN: B00W2ZKIHG
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In the latest from the USA Today bestselling author of A First Date with Death, reality TV gets all too real with murder…

After Love or Money made them reality TV stars, former cop Georgia Thornton and her new boyfriend Scott were supposed to live happily ever after. Unfortunately as their fifteen minutes of fame came to an end, actual reality kicked in and their prize money quickly evaporated.

So Georgia and Scott agree to appear in a new program, pitting them against other teams in an athletic journey across the countryside of Spain for a chance to win $250,000. But the fierce competition turns frightening when Scott disappears during an overnight camping trip in the Pyrenees Mountains, leaving only his bloody wristwatch behind—and a woman’s dead body.

With the Spanish authorities ready to convict Scott, Georgia must find him and prove his innocence in an amazing race against crime…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

In the first book, A First Date with Death, it was like The Bachelorette. This time it is like The Amazing Race, except when someone goes missing and a dead body is found on the first stop, forcing the entire contest to travel nowhere. Yes, the went from America to Spain but that was then the reality show became real and the police wouldn’t let them leave. Georgia and the bachelor she picked in the first story, Scott, are again appearing on a television show. Scott doesn’t get much time onscreen because he disappears before the competition even begins. He will get some jail time though if the police find him because his fancy watch was found next to a woman that had been murdered. The producers expect Georgia to continue the race with a new partner. Can she race and find the real killer? She knows Scott wouldn’t kill anyone…or would he???

Diana Orgain has penned an excellent story that had me staying up late until I finished the whole thing. I wasn’t exactly sure where she was going to go with this series and I love the direction she took in this second book. The characters we loved from the first book are back and we meet several new ones in Spain. I especially liked police detective, Sergio, and the senora that owned and operated the B&B, a very wise woman. The people making up the race teams were very interesting too.

We follow the race teams to many places as they find hidden items and complete the challenge tasks. There are a couple of very scary moments and a couple of funny ones too. Like the real television show expecting the unexpected is key.

The places they visited sound so beautiful and rich with history. Orgain painted wonderful pictures with her words.

As the race went on almost everyone was a suspect in Georgia’s eyes while the police stayed focused on Scott. I was completely in he dark for most of the book. I knew something was amiss but never dreamed it would play out the way it did.

I am ready for more right now. I was blessed to receive an advance copy of this book. Maybe I can get an advance of the advance copy for the next one. 🙂

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

 

GIVEAWAY

 

I am giving my review copy away.
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End January 12, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

Dec 292015
 

almost alwaysAlmost Always
PageSpring Publishing (January 12, 2013)
Contemporary Woman’s Fiction
Setting – Ohio
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939403032
E-Book ASIN: B00AR93X1C
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Here’s the way Eva sees it: if John is so concerned about her butting into strangers’ lives, he shouldn’t leave her sitting at a table in Bob Evans with nothing to occupy her time . . . Enter Cecelia—a pregnant teenager who needs a family for her baby. Fate has placed her at the table behind Eva and John. Now Eva has a chance—a chance to give her daughter, Shelly, the one thing Shelly desperately wants. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Because sometimes daughters are not born to us—they are gifted by desperate teenagers—or seated behind us at Bob Evans . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I will admit I picked this book up because I thought it going to be more of a Christmas story looking at the cover. A gingerbread house does play a part in the story but this more of a year round story.

I would find it difficult to be Eva’s child and hope I am never a mom like her. I know it is a in mother’s nature to always want to fix things, but sometimes Eva just goes too far. She does have a huge heart and thinks she is doing the right things and that her way is the best way but they way she butts her way in to certain situations drove me a little nuts.  Eva happens to overhear a conversation in a restaurant, a pregnant teenager talking to her friend. She immediately decides it is fate and this girl is going to give her baby up to Eva’s daughter who has been trying to adopt a child. We follow on Eva on her journey to make that happen.

It is a very heartwarming story in places and aggravating in others but a very compelling read none the less. Eva is a complicated character with many layers. While I didn’t like her overbearing qualities she was very real. There are many moms in this world just like her. She has a good heart, helps her friends and neighbors, but could have been more supportive of her husband and a little more understanding of her daughter’s wishes. She does open her heart and home to Cecelia and they become very close. Things do “Almost Always” work out the way Eva wishes but the key word is “almost”.

Husband John is retired and is interested in gingerbread houses. In fact, he is planning to make one to enter into a contest held in North Carolina. Eva wishes he had a more “manly hobby” and thinks he is wasting his time in his endeavor to enter the contest.

Daughter Shelly and her husband have been unable to have a child and their attempts in adoption have failed when the birth mothers have backed out. They have decided to just take a breather from all the treatments and filings to regroup when Eva informs them of her plan. They are not sure what to do or say but they are just not ready for another disappointment.

Cecelia comes from a single parent home with a mother than is basically absent. She is following in her mother’s and sister’s footprints by having a child way too soon and is completely overwhelmed by the prospect of being a mother.

This story is very well written with many twists. The characters are very developed and realistic . They continue to evolve as the story continues.  Eva was over the top but redeems herself a little bit in the end.

I enjoyed this story.

just you and a friend

4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away my review copy!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End January 12, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

Dec 242015
 

candy cane cupcake killerThe Candy Cane Cupcake Killer:
A Fresh-Baked Mystery

Cozy Mystery
10th in Series
Setting – Texas
An Obsidian Mystery (November 3, 2015)
Published by New American Library
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451416711
E-Book ASIN: B00SI028H2
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In the latest from the national bestselling author of Trick or Deadly Treat, Phyllis Newsom returns with a festive Christmas recipe that’s to die for…

‘Tis the season in Weatherford, Texas, and everyone in town is gearing up for the annual holiday parade and tree-lighting ceremony in the town square, where Phyllis Newsom will be serving her much-anticipated candy cane cupcakes. Local rancher Barney McCrory manages to charm one away from her before the ceremony begins. But unfortunately, when the minty confection is finished, so is he.

This isn’t the first time someone has dropped dead after eating one of Phyllis’s treats. But when the paramedics determine the rancher was shot, suspicion swiftly falls on McCrory’s daughter and her husband—who both stand to reap some sweet rewards from his death. Though Phyllis doesn’t want to get mixed up in another murder investigation, something about this case doesn’t sit right with her. With a little help from a tabloid TV news crew, Phyllis must unwrap the truth and restore good cheer to Weatherford before it’s too late…

Includes recipes!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

It’s Christmastime in Weatherford and it starts with the annual holiday parade. The crowd has turned out but a Grinch destroys the day. Barney McCrory, a local rancher, whose horse team is pulling Santa’s sleigh drops dead after the parade just gets started and Phyllis panics, Barney has just eaten one of her cupcakes. When the chaos clears it is determined Barney was shot. Who would benefit with the rancher out of the picture?  His daughter and her husband seem to gain the most landing them in the hot seat. Phyllis soon finds herself in the middle of another investigation. This time she gets help from a very surprising group but can they save Christmas and save Barney’s family?

I purposely saved this book to read closer to Christmas because a trip to Weatherford always puts a smile on my face.

After 10 stories these characters feel like old friends. Phyllis, Eve, Carolyn and Sam live together in a good size home and it seems the door is always open. Not only do visitors get a nice meal or a cupcake, they also get a shoulder to cry on, or a hug, but they also get an amateur sleuth in Phyllis or as the tabloids call her “Texas’s Elderly Angel of Death”. But calling her that will get the door slammed in your face, as Felicity Prosper from Inside Beat quickly found out. I would love to visit them myself without anyone having to be dead.  They may be retired but they definitely aren’ t tired. They are always on the go doing something.

This story started out with a bang that no one heard and continued its quick pace right up to the last page. I thought I had the who of the whodunit figured out a time or two, but I was completely wrong. That is the way it is supposed to be, right. Phyllis had her own way of investigating and sometimes she has all the clues she just needs to think things through a few times to get them to all fall together. Sam makes a great sounding board and sometimes even goes off on his own to chase down a clue.

This author tells a great story with dialogue that rings true and the characters’ wit comes shining through. Weatherford is the perfect setting too for this wonderful mystery. This was an exciting  story and so much fun to read.

We are given just a hint of what is in store for this cast of characters and I am excited to see it play out.

Now I think I need to bake some Candy Cake Cupcakes. Our family truly believes in the saying “Eat Dessert First” and these cupcakes will do nicely.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Livia J. Washburn on her webpage here.

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

Dec 222015
 

just for fun 2015
My December Just For Fun Read
This is the last year of this challenge.

snow way outSnow Way Out (A Snow Globe Shop Mystery)
1st in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Minnesota
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 6, 2015)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Julia Green
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270806
E-Book ASIN: B00KWG5RM8
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Curio shop manager Camryn Brooks thought she’d seen every kind of snow globe—until she saw one depicting a crime scene…

Ever since she was a child, Cami has loved the sparkling beauty of snow globes, and now, she sells them.  In fact, they’re so popular, Cami and her friend—coffee shop owner Alice “Pinky” Nelson—are hosting a snow globe making class.

After the flurry of activity has ended and everyone has gone off with their own handmade snow globes, Cami spots a new globe left behind on a shelf, featuring an odd tableau—a man sleeping on a park bench.

On her way home, she drifts through the town park and is shaken to come upon the scene from the globe—a man sitting on a bench. But he isn’t sleeping—he has a knife in his back. When the police arrive, it’s clear they consider Cami a little flaky and possibly a suspect. After her friends also come under suspicion, Cami starts plowing through clues to find the cold-blooded backstabber—before someone else gets iced…

Snow globe making projects and tips included!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I wish we had a store like this nearby. I would buy, buy, buy!!

Camryn Brooks has taken over running her parents store, Curio Finds, after returning in despair from her job in Washington D.C.. Her mother is going through chemo and her dad wants to be close by to take care of her. Her friend,   Alice “Pinky” Nelson, runs the connected coffee shop, Brew Ha Ha. Together they decided to host a snow globe making class. After the class is over Cami notices a new snow globe on a shelf in the store. A man in a park sleeping on a bench. Strange, who would have left that there? Cami starts her walk home through the park and notices a scene much like the scene in the new snow globe. She nudges the man and finds out he is not asleep, HE IS DEAD! This has to be connected to the snow globe and only the people in the class could have left it in the store. Could one of Cami’s friends or customers be a killer?

I like these characters. Cami, “my name  is Camryn”, has a chip on her shoulder after being forced out of Washington by circumstances she tried to control. But I like that she is back home, her parents, especially her mom needs her to be close by. The love this family shares is so evident. They also love their snow globe store and going on little trips to find new items to sell. I look forward to getting to know this family better. Erin, a school teacher, and Mark a police officer, round out the group that has been friends for most of their lives.  Clint, the assistant police chief, was ahead of them in school, but with this case tends to be around a lot. Clint does have one very annoying habit that drives Cami crazy. There is a lot of room for these characters to develop, but we have been given a  fine introduction.

The build up of the mystery was good but I had a hard time believing the way it played out. It also made me sad.  Cami doesn’t really investigate or solve the case but she does not know who to trust. Her friends are up to something she just hopes it isn’t murder.

It is the characters that will being me back to read The Iced Princess. They are quite a bunch.

still at the beach but not as tranquil

3 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Christine Husom on her webpage here


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

 

Dec 192015
 

My Alphabet Soup Challenge had me venturing outside my normal reading genres.

X OUT OF WONDERLAND
X Out Of Wonderland
Contemporary Satire
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Zoland Books; 1st edition (October 10, 2006)
ISBN-13: 978-1581952193
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X Out of Wonderland is a farce, modeled after Candide, that takes on the Global Free Market and just about every other aspect of contemporary life. Outrageous and poignant by turns, X is a satire with heart, and an intense and funny reading experience.

X, the novel’s decent and brave protagonist, maintains his optimistic pursuit of love and The Good Life even as a string of catastrophies brutalize him through a series of misadventures that take him around the world. While pointing up the absurdities of our own times, X Out of Wonderland also shows clearly the universal predicament of all humans in all cultures in all times: the need to find meaning and dignity in our lives despite the certainty of death and suffering. The story makes clear that despite our folly, we’ve got a few things going for us: faith, hope, love, and the capacity to endure.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have not read Candide and would have never picked this book up had it not had the “X” in the title I needed for a reading challenge. Note this was released in 2005 well before the catastrophe of 2008.  Definitely a farce. X travels the world in search of The Good Life. He continues to get up and keep going no matter how many times he is knocked down.  At times I felt like X, my life has been a series of events I wish I never had to endure including losing our home to a bank too big to fail. Maybe that is why the satire fell way short for me. It hit too close.

A tornado hits X’s part of Wonderland (read United States) and the radio talk-show host is now homeless. We follow him to some crazy places where he meets some crazy people.

It is a quick read at just 160 pages but don’t really recommend you do. But hey, I did complete my challenge.

should have stayed home

2 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*From my private library

Dec 192015
 

Checking off the “V” on my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

vision of sugar plumsA Vision of Sugarplums
Holiday Romance
87 pages
Publisher: Steel Magnolia Press (November 18, 2011)
ASIN: B006A1Z06W
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Meghan Castle is a real Scrooge about the holidays … until she finds an abandoned baby in her store on Christmas Eve. Change is certainly in the air – especially when late shopper Rick Wallman walks in with yet another delightful holiday surprise.

Meghan has to take the baby home — that or call Social Services on Christmas Eve. Rick goes with her to help shop for baby supplies and winds up spending the night.

Meghan and Rick, though, each have secrets — one of which could destroy the fragile future they begin to build together.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Meghan Castle find an abandoned baby in her store and she and a perfect stranger just take it to her house.  The stranger even stays the night and then some.

I did notice this novella was originally published back in the 90’s. No one today would find a baby in their store and just take it home. Heck would the even do that in the 90’s. It was Christmas Eve but not calling the police was so unfathomable to me. Plus a guy your never met but he seems nice so o.k. let’s take him home too. I did keep reading hoping for something redeeming to happen.

A first I thought Rick Wallman was a nice guy but then he convinces her to take the baby to her house. As the story continued steam start coming from my ears. What a jerk.

I do love a romance novel once in awhile for something different to read. I had to keep reading just to see if anyone in this story had any common sense. Meghan finds out Rick’s HUGE secret and did send him packing but SPOILER ALERT she actually takes him back.

Thankfully this was a very fast read and I hadn’t invested much time.

should have stayed home2 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Come back this afternoon. You will see my choice to finish out this year’s Alphabet Soup Challenge also totally missed the mark for me. 

*My private collection, purchased from Amazon

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