Posted in Nana's Nook Reviews 2017

Nana’s Nook – When You’re Feeling Sick by Coy Bowles

When You’re Feeling Sick by Coy Bowles

Doubleday Books for Young Readers (January 10, 2017)
Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0399552861
Kindle ASIN: B01EE0CQYE

Sneezing? Coughing? Taking a sick day? Don’t worry, you’ll be feeling better soon thanks to this hilarious picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist of the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band. Full of encouraging—and super-silly—rhyming advice on how to face sick days with courage and a positive attitude, When You’re Feeling Sick is just what the doctor ordered! Comes with a sheet of stickers to bring a smile to every sick kid’s face.

Nana’s Thoughts
What better time to review a book about feeling sick than when you are actually dealing with a bug yourself. I have been coughing for days and this book made me smile.

I loved the text, wonderful rhythm and rhymes, what I would expect from a musician, 🙂 A couple of pages did lose the rhythm to add some crazy goofy words and sentences, but I think the children may enjoy these pages best because the are crazy and goofy. The wording is appropriate for the targeted age. The older ones could probably read it themselves but if they are not feeling well they will enjoy you reading it to them. Silly verses that children will love. Even a song to sing when you want “sickness” to go away.

The illustrations by Andy Elkerton are bright and and so colorful. The monsters/bugs/viruses are just the right amount of funny/scary. The doctors and nurses are smiling and friendly. The kids are cute and lovable even when they are feeling sick. I am happy to see a diverse cast, even a child in a wheelchair.

This is the kind of book that will be read again and again. I can hear children asking to have it read to them whenever they are feeling ill. Soon they will know the words and recite them right along with the reader. A great message for both boys and girls. I do think the upper range of the target area may not enjoy it time and time again as much as the younger ones.

A funny book to lift a child spirits when they are feeling sick. I will be checking out Coy’s other books too!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

COY BOWLES plays guitar and organ and writes songs for the multi-platinum Zac Brown Band. They have won three Grammys and since 2009 have earned 55 award nominations from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, American Music Awards, Country Music Association, and Country Music Television. Born in Thomaston, Georgia, Coy was raised on love, support, and the idea that he could do anything he put his heart and soul into. After earning a degree from Georgia State University’s Jazz Studies program, Coy formed the band Coy Bowles and the Fellowship. In 2006, they opened for the Zac Brown Band, and soon after Zac asked Coy to join his band full time. Coy’s first book, the self-published Amy Giggles: Laugh Out Loud, teaches kids to accept themselves as they are. Visit Coy at coybowles.com.

 
 
ANDY ELKERTON began his career as a graphic designer for video games, when the industry was still in its infancy, and after fourteen years decided to try his hand at being a children’s book illustrator. Since 2002 he has produced work for picture books, advertising, and toy design. He lives in a small town on the west coast of Scotland with his wife and three children.

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.”

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#Review / #Giveaway – River City Dead by Nancy G. West – Great Escapes Book Tour – @HeneryPress

My post wraps up this tour. It has been a fun one.
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river-city-dead
River City Dead (An Aggie Mundeen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Texas
Henery Press (January 17, 2017)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111330
E-Book ASIN: B01MA6NALN

 

Synopsis

Aggie Mundeen, who advises readers in her column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” is pushing forty and determined to postpone a precipitous descent into middle-age. She plans to rendezvous with SAPD Detective Sam Vanderhoven at a hotel on the San Antonio River Walk…a vacation from crime and reset for their tumultuous relationship. In the midst of River City during Fiesta Week, what could go wrong?

Aggie’s new friends, the Fabulous Femmes, are holding their convention at the hotel. When hotel guests are murdered, Aggie discovers her friends have disturbing backgrounds. Evil surfaces at Fiesta events, and Aggie’s dancing debut at a Fiesta performance at Arneson River Theater is fraught with danger. Even in idyllic River City, crime complicates relationships.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sam and Aggie had a grand plan for some time alone in San Antonio during Fiesta Week but there is just one small problem, there is a dead woman in their hotel suite. They hadn’t checked in yet but there are no more rooms to be found and Sam has been called back to work to investigate the case. He knows he is not going to be able to keep Aggie from butting her way into the investigation and she has a pretty good record for solving previous murders so he rather than fight her he embraces her help. Of course, she does nothing in moderation so he may be saving her yet again. This man has the patience of a saint.

I liked Aggie more in this book than any of the others. She wasn’t so immersed in the staying and looking young frame of mind as in past books. Of course, it was there a little bit, but now that her relationship with Sam is moving in a positive direction it is not consuming her life the way it was in previous stories. Even her column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” fan letters were requesting more relationship advice instead of ways to look and act younger.

In addition to the core characters we meet a whole new group of people, the Fabulous Femmes and their significant others. In fact, the dead woman is part of their group, making them all suspects. These ladies and their men are very unique. The men all have a military background and the woman love to party. I liked the way the accepted Aggie right into their group. Aggie has a way about her that people open up and tell her things that they probably wouldn’t share with anyone else. Sam knows this and encourages her to use it to help him.

This story is well written and the mystery sends Aggie off in several directions. She really has great observation techniques and hones in to important details.

The main thing this author does though is fill this story with so much humor and absolutely funny moments. A scene in a bookstore was hilarious.

If you like your mysteries full of comedy and quirky characters, look no further than Nancy G. West. They are sure to put a smile on your face.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

More Praise For River City Dead
by Nancy G. West

The book is a quick and easy read that will keep the reader engaged from for the first page. There is humor, sadness, suspense, and tragedy – a little something for everyone who loves a good cozy mystery.
~Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

The descriptive writing is wonderful and the way we are included in the thought processes of those investigating delights a true cozy fan. I enjoyed the history I learned.
~Laura’s Interests

This book is for sleuth lovers, fans of a good mystery and a little bit of love and fun! You will have a good time reading this book!
~Varietats

I loved the Fabulous Femmes and the subgroups and clicks and all the drama this group of women create.
~A Chick Who Reads

 

Nancy West

About This Author

I’ve been writing since age seven: poems back and forth with my mom. I had a real poem published in the Library Journal, Pegasus, at age fifteen. At eighteen, I wanted to study journalism and English literature, but friends who chose that college route were making minimum wage or selling lingerie. Being practical, I earned a business degree. After marriage and two children, I decided I HAD to study literature and write. I wrote non-fiction articles, a biography, and a suspense novel in 2004. That’s when whimsical Aggie Mundeen cut through the suspense, popped into my head and demanded her own series. The Aggie Mundeen mystery capers were born. Aggie must have been right: FIT TO BE DEAD is a LEFTY FINALIST 2013 for best humorous mystery, nominated by Left Coast Crime.

Chat with Aggie and Nancy on their blog here.

Author’s Webpage         Author Page at Henery Press           Author GoodReads

Purchase Links
Books in the Aggie Mundeen Humorous Mystery Series:

FIT TO BE DEAD (#1)
DANG NEAR DEAD (#2)
SMART, BUT DEAD (#3)
RIVER CITY DEAD (#4)
Amazon  B&N

GIVEAWAY

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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.”

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Cozy Wednesday with Cleo Coyle – Author of Dead Cold Brew – #Review / #Giveaways

It is my absolute pleasure to Welcome Cleo Coyle back to Escape With Dollycas today!

DEAD COLD BREW AND NEWS FROM CLEO COYLE

Marc and I are excited to be visiting with you today. Special thanks to Dollycas for giving us this chance to tell you about our new Coffeehouse Mystery—and what we’re working on for the future.

It’s official. After 15 books, our amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, finally becomes engaged to her boyfriend, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn. Our readers have been waiting for this moment for years. In Dead Cold Brew, it happens at last.

Unfortunately, the vintage coffee diamonds Mike slips on Clare’s finger open a Pandora’s box to a cold case murder that occurred sixty years before.

This chilling homicide took place in a stateroom of the SS Andrea Doria, a luxurious Italian ocean liner that tragically sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956.

On board that ship was a gifted Italian artisan named Gus Campana, the jewelry designer who created Clare’s engagement ring. When Clare finds Gus poisoned behind his West Village workshop, she won’t rest until she uncovers who may have done it and why. Her search uncovers a decades-old family scandal, a charming jewel thief, a shocking inheritance, and a deadly adversary.

Best of all, Dead Cold Brew is embedded with twists, turns, and wonderful secrets about New York City that we’ve discovered over the years—from an exclusive room in the legendary 21 Club, to the underbelly of the city’s Diamond District, to a hidden train platform beneath the Waldorf-Astoria.

 

THE RECIPES!

Food is always a fun part of our Coffeehouse Mysteries, and we’ve included some of our favorite recipes in the appendix of Dead Cold Brew. A few were even inspired by Clare’s visit to New York’s famous 21 Club, a Prohibition-era restaurant that still serves movie stars and presidents. See descriptions and photos of these recipes and many more in our Free Recipe Guide. Print it out, and you have an instant, illustrated recipe section for your book.

Click here for our Free Recipe Guide.

 

If you are new to our Coffeehouse Mystery series, don’t hesitate to pick up Dead Cold Brew. Marc and I always strive to give new readers enough background to enjoy every book in our series as a stand-alone. And if you like it, you have 15 more in the series to enjoy.

Click here for a Free Checklist of all 16 Coffeehouse Mystery titles.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR CLEO COYLE?

For those of you wondering what’s next for Clare (and Cleo), we’re pleased to announce that we’ve already begun development on our 17th Coffeehouse Mystery with our longtime publisher, Berkley of Penguin Random House.

We’re also finishing up a new entry in our Haunted Bookshop Mystery series with Berkley, and we’ll be releasing fun, little excerpts from the book in our coming newsletters. The truth is we haven’t published a new Haunted Bookshop Mystery for several years—frankly, the reasons were personal (deaths in our families and health issues). Life happens, as they say, and it happens for writers too. We sincerely thank our readers and our publisher for their patience with us.

We assure you all, however, the “spirit” was always with us—and still is! We love Jack Shepard, our PI Ghost, and the young New England widow who runs the bookshop he haunts (both of whom we created way back in 2003) and we look forward to getting the unlikely duo back to work on perplexing criminal cases. The 6th title in the series, The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, is scheduled for release next year. To learn more about our second mystery series, originally published under the name Alice Kimberly, visit the Haunted Bookshop page of our website by clicking here.

For a Free Checklist of Haunted Bookshop Mystery titles, click here.

Until we see you again, we hope you enjoy the books we’ve published thus far. We hope you’ll support our ongoing work by buying Dead Cold Brew—or borrowing it from your local library. We also hope you’ll stay in touch because we love to share new recipes, fun info, and videos on our website, Facebook page, and in our newsletters. May you always read with joy!

To keep in touch with us…

Visit our website: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

Friend us on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CleoCoyle

Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/CleoCoyle

Sign up for our newsletter here.

ARE YOU READY?

Watch Our New Coffeehouse Video!

About This Author

CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.  CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen the Coffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin Random House. Together Cleo and her husband also write the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, originally published under the name Alice Kimberly. When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java. You can learn more about Cleo, her husband, and the books they write by visiting www.CoffeehouseMystery.com.

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dead-cold-brew
Dead Cold Brew
(A Coffeehouse Mystery)
16th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – New York
Publisher: Berkley (January 10, 2017)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425276112
E-Book ASIN: B01CZCW3BO
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Synopsis

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead to the Last Drop, comes a gripping new entry in the “highly satisfying”* Coffeehouse Mystery series. (*Publishers Weekly)

THE PERFECT PROPOSAL LEADS TO A CHILLING COLD CASE…

Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear…

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare’s finger, Clare’s eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare’s daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare’s ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York’s most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

With recipes to die for, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series just keeps getting better and better!

In this installment the authors take us back in time to connect a present mystery to a very old mystery.  A jeweler is found unconscious and a letter is delivered that brings family secrets to light. What does a sunken ship and a precious jewel that supposedly went down with it have to do with the happenings today? All this just as Mike finally pops to question to Clare.  Congratulations are definitely in order but first Clare is on the trail trying to determine what it all means before more people end up dead.

Dead Cold Brew is the 16th installment in this long running series and it is still brewing at a fevered pitch. These characters are so strong, current and real. The drama starts with  an event that could be ripped from real life headlines. There is a sniper gunning down cops, thankfully only wounding them, but Mike’s unit is one of the group’s being targeted. Clare is also working with her ex Matt find on who targeted his godfather after he is found poisoned in his home. Clare fears the cases may be related.

The story is very fast paced, so many things are happening but these authors are pros, the drama does not overwhelm the reader.  We are drawn in a clues are solved and twists take us in different directions. I loved the way the history of Matt’s family is integral the the story. Clare is so close to her ex mother in law and the woman has been so generous to Clare it was wonderful to get some of her back story. There is also part of the story the reminds me of my son and that made the book extra special for me. All this together makes this an extremely hard book to put down.

I now have a new book that is my favorite in this series.

The special thing is that the authors give us plenty of details so no matter whether you have read this series from the start, or missed a couple in the middle or if this is your first time visiting with Clare and her friends you won’t be lost or feel like you have missed something. I can’t promise that you won’t want to go back and read this series from the start after reading this one. In fact I am almost positive you will. I think you will love these characters and want to read everything that you can about them.

Oh and don’t forget the recipes. The fantastic recipes.

Brew yourself a nice cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy Dead Cold Brew!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

My first Paradise Rating of 2017!

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PLUS

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 Hardcover copy to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
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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 Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes Reviews 2017 You Read How Many Books Challenge

#Review / #Giveaway – A Fatal Twist by Tracy Weber

a-fatal-twist-large-banner640

A Fatal Twist
by Tracy Weber

a-fatal-twist

A Fatal Twist (A Downward Dog Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Washington
Midnight Ink (January 8, 2017)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738748788
E-Book ASIN: B01FOR0Z0I
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Synopsis

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s life takes a chaotic turn once she agrees to not only be the doula for her pregnant best friend, but also play foster mother to two puppies. The chaos only gets worse when Kate finds the dead body of a philandering fertility doctor and Rachel, one of her yoga students, fleeing the scene.

Kate is convinced her student is innocent, and she sets out to find the real killer before her testimony condemns Rachel to a life behind bars. But her hands are full with caring for three dogs, teaching yoga classes, and gaining an unexpected crime-solving partner. If she’s not careful, Kate’s next yoga pose may be a fatal one.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Kate’s new role as a friend’s doula for her the birth of her child takes her into new territory, a local medical center. Unfortunately, she still finds a dead body. A doctor she knows is having an affair AND she witnesses one of her yoga students leaving the scene of the crime. She is also dealing with Michael bringing home 2 abandoned puppies. Bella handles the dogs better than Kate expected at first but with her medical issues these extra roommates may not be a good idea long term. So dogs, doula, murder investigation, and oh yeah her full time job teaching yoga. It is going to take more than meditation to get Kate through all this.

I am always excited when a new book comes out in this series.

In A Fatal Twist, all my favorite characters are back and two that could barely stand to be in the same room with the other form a bond and a surprising friendship. Both characters have truly evolved and as a reader that is so important as a series continues. It is the key that keeps us coming back for each new story. I also loved pregnant Rene, she is just priceless, she had me laughing out loud so many times I lost count.

We also learn what it means to be a doula. Kate learns it is much more detailed that she thought and readers gain insight as well. I wish I would have had one for my children’s births.

The author clearly know her subject being a yoga teacher herself. She has a keen insight to take her passion and craft mystery stories around it. She has done this now 4 times and I hope she continues for quite some time. In this installment, she twists things around and around making extremely unexpected connections that propel readers through the story at a pretty rapid pace. There is always something happening, never a lull, hence not a good stopping point, making it very hard to put down even though it is way past bedtime.

I have several reasons for loving these stories, there is always a great mystery, the characters are genuine and continue to grow, relationships are fluid, there is humor in all the right places and I always learn something new.

Years ago, after the accident that left my right side paralyzed, I had a doctor suggest I try yoga. I could never imagine how I could do yoga when I can’t move one side of my body or even get down and up off the floor without help. But in this story Kate has a class, South Bath, where people lie on their mats in a comfortable position, such a Corpse Pose, covered with a blanket while a concert of drums, chimes, bamboo sticks and vocalizations happens around them in a candlelit room. It is said to have a soothing effect and helps to center the person. Now that is something I could do, as long as there was someone to help me get to the floor and off it when class ended. 🙂 It is something I would love to try.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Praise for A Fatal Twist

..a funny story and the author does a wonderful job with the characters and scenes.
~Bab’s Book Bistro

With Tracy Weber we get an abundance of education while having fun…The action and troubles seem to never cease.
~Laura’s Interests

The author has created characters that are fun and entertaining…I highly recommend this book (and series) to all readers!
~A Date With A Book

Kate is the main character in this cozy mystery. She has a great sense of empathy for others and I loved how she was determined to make sure the right killer was charged.
~Texas Book-aholic

The characters are all well-written and have depth to them. The plot is captivating with so many different possible outcomes.
~Socrates’ Book Reviews…

Tracy Weber Small Headshot

About The Author

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

 Author Links

Webpage     Blog

Facebook      GoodReads       Twitter 

Purchase Links

Click on covers to order from Amazon.
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Flashback Friday – Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong #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.


Rest in Peach
(A Georgia Peach Mystery)

by Susan Furlong
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Georgia
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (April 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425278567
Kindle ASIN: B011IVWSEA
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Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong – The annual Peach Cotillion, Cays Mill, Georgia’s biggest event, is fast approaching and Nola Mae Harper is just as excited as the rest of the town—even though she’s busy juggling both the cotillion dinner and the grand opening of her new shop, Peachy Keen. But she never expected that plans for the cotillion would end up in the pits because of the cutthroat competition between local debutantes.

When Vivien Crenshaw, insufferable church organist and despised mother of the town’s spoiled-rotten Peach Queen, is stabbed to death, the police turn to Nola’s friend Ginny as prime suspect. Apparently the two had fought over a one-of-a-kind cotillion gown. As Nola steps in to prove Ginny’s innocence she soon finds herself picking through a bushel of suspects, twice as many motives, and at the mercy of a killer all too keen on killing again.

INCLUDES RECIPES!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am not from the south and have never attended a cotillion, but from everything I have seen and read I know the debs and especially their mothers can be pretty cutthroat. So when one of the mothers was found dead, stabbed in the throat with a sewing shears, I must say I wasn’t surprised. Beyond that this story was full of surprises.

Our victim, Vivien Crenshaw, mother of debutante Tara, gets into a spat with Nola’s friend Ginny over a dress. Seems the owner of the dress shop made a huge mistake and Ginny’s daughter, Emily and spoiled brat Tara ordered the same dress. Vivien feels the dress belongs to her daughter and that Emily can choose a new dress. Ginny is not backing down but Emily and Nola convince her to just let it go. The argument happened in front of a store full of people and Ginny did threaten Vivian so when she is found dead Ginny is targeted as the prime suspect faster than you can slice a peach. Nola has her new shop, Peachy Keen opening soon and has so much left to do but she has to set this half baked idea that her friend is a murderer to rest as quickly as possible even if it means putting herself in danger.

Susan Furlong has written another strong story. She has captured the craziness that surrounds a cotillion from the dresses to the dinners and the dances in such a fun way. Each chapter even starts with a debutante rule.

Debutante Rule #032: Like a magnolia tree, a debutante’s outward beauty reflects her strong inner  roots…and that’s why we never leave the house without makeup on. 

Debutante Rule #067: A debutante is like a tea bag. Ya never know how strong she is until she is sitting in hot water.

Main character, Nola Mae Harper, continues to grow and evolve. She has decided to stay in Cays Mill and help her family’s peach business grow by opening up her own little store to sell products made with peaches from their orchard. She already has an online presence and some local customers. She is hoping the tourists will become more than just one time buyers. While she does have a plan for the business her own personal life is not so smooth. I love some romantic drama.

The murder mystery was top shelf. So many suspects and a few secrets make this a mystery I could really sink my teeth into. I was right there to the end with Nola trying to figure out whodunit.

The entire book is full of Southern charm and laced with humor. It was a “perfectly peachy” read. I am excited for book #3, War and Peach, set for delivery February 7.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About Susan Furlong

During her writing career, Susan has worked as an academic writer, freelance writer and novelist. Currently she’s busy working on The Georgia Peach Mysteries. (Berkley Prime Crime/July 2015) She also writes under the pen name Lucy Arlington. To learn more about her writing, visit her website at www.susanfurlong.com


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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 Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Reviews 2017 You Read How Many Books Challenge

#Review – She Stopped for Death: A Little Library Mystery by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli @crookedlanebks


She Stopped for Death: A Little Library Mystery
by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Michigan
Crooked Lane Books (January 10, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683310136
Kindle ASIN: B01IRS85CG

 

 

Jenny Weston and her mother, Dora, have been receiving strange midnight visits. Bear Falls’s own elusive and highly secretive poet, Emily Sutton, has lived her life cloistered away with her sister in a house at the edge of Pewee Swamp. But now, Emily’s started leaving scraps of poetry in Dora’s Little Library, and Dora makes it her mission to befriend the sheltered woman.

Meanwhile Zoe Zola, almost famous author, Little Person, and the Weston’s quirky next-door neighbor, is hard at work on a new book, this one about the inner life of Emily Dickinson. And once again, Zoe’s literary work starts making uncanny connections with the events in her own world as Emily Sutton reemerges into society. But Zoe begins to suspect things aren’t anywhere near normal at Emily’s swamp house or in the lives of the people she claims have abandoned her…until looking further into the poet’s half-truths leads Zoe and Jenny to a horrible murder.

The chaos surrounding the ensuing investigation grows even more hectic with Emily’s increasingly erratic behavior, the arrival of a young woman searching for her missing poet uncle, and yet another betrayal in Jenny’s love life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

Like the first book in the series, Murder Most Curious, this mystery was curious. A reclusive poet, Emily Sutton has left her home in the Pewee Swamp to visit Dora’s Little Library and left some of her new poetry. Meanwhile another town resident is planning an event to honor the poet and is thrilled to learn that Emily wants to attend and do a reading. Dora with the help of Zoe and Jenny is determined to help the poet get out in the world again but Zoe has a bad feeling about her. She starts to do a little investigating and she and Jenny make a horrific discovery.

I really like the relationship between Jenny and her mom and love the way they have included Zoe in their little family group. Zoe doesn’t always make that easy. They were also very accepting of Emily and even welcome another visitor into their home midway through the story. They seem to be genuine individuals with the ability to truly empathize with others around them.

A twisted tangle of events take place in the story. This author has a real unique imagination that turned this story upside down. I was drawn deeper and and deeper into the mystery as I swiped each page. Such great writing, a complex mystery that brings a real psychological element to what otherwise is considered a cozy mystery. There are some very suspenseful moments that had me on the edge of my seat.

I can’t wait for the next installment. Watch this author, I expect many fantastic stories are headed our way.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

I received this book for review from NetGalley and I am sorry I do not have a copy to giveaway.

About The Author

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (aka Elizabeth Lee) is a Michigan based novelist whose 12th book is due out in 2016. She teaches fiction writing at Northern Michigan College and has written for the NORTHERN EXPRESS, the ROMEO OBSERVER, the DETROIT NEWS, and the RECORD-EAGLE. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, International Association of crime Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers’ of America, Michigan Writers, and Detroit Working Writers and has three mystery series out, or about to be published.

In the Emily Kincaid series her novel DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN was chosen one of the best mysteries of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews. A new series (written as Elizabeth Lee) is now out with the third: NUTS AND BURIED (based in Texas)  released in November from Berkley Publishers. Another series, beginning with A MOST CURIOUS MURDER, (Crooked Lane Publishers) and now SHE STOPPED FOR DEATH.


Written as Elizabeth Lee

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher on NetGalley. 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 Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2017 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Gail Oust – Author of Curried Away – #Review / #Giveaway too! – Great Escapes Book Tour

I am so excited to Welcome Gail back to Escape With Dollycas today! 

 

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

Or, maybe for whom the clock ticks, would be more appropriate when discussing the dreaded “D” word.   Every writer dreams of having a book contract, but with every contract comes a deadline.  I tend to believe that the “dead” part of deadline is significant.  Deadlines are sneaky devils.  They lull you into a false sense of complacency when they’re six, nine, or twelve months away.  You think you have all the time in the world to whip your story into submission.  While in this state of bliss, you take occasional days off to have a little fun, entertain out of town guests, or just goof off.  You might agree to speaking engagements, attend a writers conference or two, or even volunteer to moderate a panel.  No worry, you tell yourself, you have plenty of time.  You have everything under control.

Bam!  Then it hits you.  A closer look at the calendar reveals the deadline you thought tame is about to pounce and bite your head off.  Your focus narrows so all you can see is the darn computer screen and the stupid cursor with its incessant blinking.  You transform into a frantic Captain Hook chased by the crocodile who swallowed a ticking clock.  No more play dates with friends.  You wonder if they’ll forget your name but not for long because you have plot points to ponder.  Meals become haphazard and you’re grateful your husband likes egg sandwiches and gas station pizza.  You desperately need a hair cut but your hairdresser tends to be chatty and you can’t spare the time.  A manicure is on the horizon, too, but that only occurs when your long fingernails keep hitting keys you never intended.  There are chapters to write; pages to polish.  Your world dwindles until there is only “The Book.”   Then, miraculously, its finished.  You hit the SEND button, and your manuscript flies through cyberspace to land on the desk of your editor in publisherville.

Now it’s time to celebrate, time to toast your success, get caught up on sleep, renew acquaintances, and cook elaborate meals.  And, strange as it may sound, it’s time to wish for another deadline.

~Gail

Curried Away: A Spice Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Georgia

Minotaur Books (December 13, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250081254
E-Book ASIN: B01G1J80H8
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Synopsis

Piper Prescott, proprietor of Spice It Up!, has persuaded Doug Winters, the mild-mannered vet she’s been dating, to demonstrate Indian cuisine at her shop. But before Doug’s presentation of classic chicken curry is completed, Ned Feeney, local handyman, bursts in with news of a murder.

Sandy Granger, the director of a local production of Steel Magnolias, was found strangled in the third-floor balcony of the Brandywine Creek Opera House. Sandy, it seems, had not endeared herself to cast or crew. Complaints about her ran the gamut from her management style to her lack of people skills. Everyone connected with the production falls under suspicion, including Piper Prescott’s BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, who made it well known how unhappy she is that she was cut from the cast.

When the spotlight for the dastardly deed shines on Reba Mae, Piper rushes to her friend’s defense. Who among Sandy’s detractors was angry enough to wrap a silk scarf around her neck—and pull tight? Will Piper succeed in solving the case before she becomes the killer’s encore performance? And will she ever learn just how to prepare the perfect curry?

Dollycas Thoughts

This 4th installment of Gail Oust’s Spice Shop Mysteries finds the town in rehearsals for a production of Steel Magnolias. The director, Sandy Grainger, is pretty demanding and most of the cast and crew is ready to quit. When she tells them they will be rehearsing over the Thanksgiving weekend everyone was upset. But when she cut Reba Mae Johnson from the cast Reba Mae doesn’t hold back and really tells Sandy off in front of everyone. So when the overbearing director is found dead, Reba Mae is the prime suspect. Piper quickly goes into sleuth mode to prove her friend’s innocence and catch the real killer.

I have enjoyed this series from the start. All my favorite characters are back and there is plenty of drama over and above the murder mystery. Several characters are evolving in new and unexpected directions. One was very expected but I am so happy with the way the author is handling the whole situation.

As for the murder, there are so many suspects, we find Piper and Chief McBride get a pretty testy with each other. The town is also up in arms when the killer is not caught immediately. The sales of pepper spray increase and several woman demand Piper to convince the chief to hold a self-defense class. He has the investigation to conduct and tries to get out of holding the class by scheduling it at a time when thinks no one will show up. He was in for a big surprise. Guess who becomes his demonstration partner?

As always this author cooks us up a tasty mystery that I am pleased to recommend highly. I am not a big fan of curry, but I really loved this story.

There is some information about curry in the back of the book along with recipes for Spicy Chicken Curry, Cranberry Nut Mini Muffins and Gingerbread.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

gail

About 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:  Webpage – www.gailoust.comGail Oust Author on Facebook, and Goodreads.

Purchase Links
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January 6 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

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January 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &,Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

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January 15 – Bibliophile Reviews – 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 Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge E-Book Challenge Reviews 2017 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting You Read How Many Books Challenge

Early Review – The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen

My First Book Read in 2017

The Mutual Admiration Society: A Novel
by Lesley Kagen
Fiction/Family Life
Setting – Wisconsin
Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2017)
Paperback: 282 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1503941038
Kindle ASIN: B01G50QX2C

 

 

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark comes an unforgettable novel that illuminates the sweet and brittle bonds of family, the tenderness of growing up, the heartbreak of longing for what we’ve lost, and the poignancy of finding love.

FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.

Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

FACT: Lesley Kagen captures the voices of children in a profound way.

PROOF: This story!

Set in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we meet 11 year old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, her younger sister, Birdie, and her “fiancee”, Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield. They make up the Mutual Admiration Society. Tessie is sure she saw a crime committed and the society needs to start its investigation right away. They just need to get around some house rules and Gert Klement, their next door neighbor, who is not their biggest fan. In fact, she believes they need to be sent away.

These characters were first introduced to readers in The Undertaking of Tess, released in 2014. While the author does give plenty of details so that this book can be read on its own, you may want to read the prior story first for more background on the Finley’s. 

As a mystery lover I enjoyed Tessie and her lists and methodical investigation and that Birdie found a key clue and really helped Tessie figure out the suspected murder. Through the eyes of children in the late 1950’s I was able to see things in a different way. It was quite an adventure. Tessie has already dealt with so much in her young life and is responsible for watching over Birdie every day. Her lists do get a little repetitive but through them readers clearly see the way her mind works.

Kagen has crafted a heartwarming story but at times it is heartbreaking too. Her characters are so unique and the dialogue is true to a child’s voice and sprinkled liberally with humor. The world has changed since 1959. It was wonderful to escape back in time and tag along on this adventure with the Mutual Admiration Society.

I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author. She is an extremely talented storyteller.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Lesley Kagen and her books 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.”

Posted in Flashback Friday Giveaways Reviews 2017

Flashback Friday – #Review / #Giveaway – Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson


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


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

 

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

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

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

Dollycas’s Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

SybilJohnson_2_cropped

About The Author –

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

Author Links

Website    Facebook Author page     Twitter   GoodReads    Publisher

I am giving away 1 e-copy of Fatal Brushstroke.
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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 Reviews 2017

Cozy Wednesday with Diana Orgain- Author of Third Time’s A Crime – #Review / #Giveaway too! @BerkleyMystery

 

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

 

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

By Diana Orgain

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

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

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

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

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

Kirsten laughed a response.

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

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

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

Awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A chill danced across my spine. Poor Anna.

“Can we see the kitchen?” I asked.

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

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

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

~Diana

Plus an Excerpt –

One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To solve the crime,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?” Scott asked.

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

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

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

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

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

The cast made the appropriate gasps and tsking sounds.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

POOL YOUR RESOURCES…

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

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

Dollycas’s Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

 

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