Jan 192018
 

Changing things up a little bit today.
I received this book for an early review and couldn’t wait to read it,
so I stuck in a Flashback Friday spot.
That means we are having a FlashForward Friday

so I could tell you about it right away.


Tart of Darkness (Chef-to-Go Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Illinois
Sourcebooks Landmark (April 3, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1492648383
Kindle ASIN: B0748MXMSZ

 

 

Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion―cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears―perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to an amazing start!

Danielle (Dani) Sloan quit her job, dropped her “Dr. McCreepy” and is cooking up a storm, watching Hell’s Kitchen and Cupcake Wars, as she sends out her resumé. She is usually joined by Ivy Drake, an 18-year old college junior that lives across the hall. Not a typical friendship, more of a big sister/little sister thing, but it works for them. One day she receives a letter telling her she has inherited a mansion, an old Victorian that was being remodeled into a B&B. After the shock wears off she realizes this inheritance could make her dreams come true. So while the lawyer gets the paperwork done she makes plans for her new business, Chef-to-Go. She will be doing catering, providing meals on the go for the college students and hiring herself out as a personal chef. She gets help with the business from her new tenants, Ivy and her friends that used to live across the hall. They were evicted for some major infractions of the landlord’s rules. Their parents have agreed to pay for them to live with Dani as long as Dani watches over them and Ivy’s Uncle Spencer checks on them weekly. Spencer, the head of college security is glad to help the girls any way he can, especially after he meets Dani.

Things are going great until one of Ivy’s college friends is murdered, shortly after Dani caters a party for her. The investigating detective decides quickly that Dani is the killer. She could lose everything. She needs to clear her name and fast or the only place she will cooking will be the state penitentiary.

The first book in a series is a huge undertaking because you have to introduce the characters, give them each a back story, connect them together and then wrap them in a mystery that keeps readers flipping those pages while leaving them wanting for more. Ms. Swanson more than met this challenge.

I liked Dani immediately. She left her job for a very good reason and I was excited that she could follow her passion. Her business plan makes sense and her new living arrangement is unique and fun. Ivy being so young is a bit naive and needs to have someone looking out for her. Her friends Tippi and Starr do what they can, but she needs Dani and Spencer in her life too. Tippi and Starr are typical college students and Dani likes having them live with her, but one tends to shirk her responsibilities to Danni quite a bit. Spencer is a former FBI agent who spent most of his career undercover. Now retired he enjoys the slower pace of running the security division for the college. These core characters are engaging and interesting. The author has left plenty of room to grow as the series continues.

There are some crazy characters too. Detective Mikeloff is off the rails and the victim and her family have their issues too.

The plot and subplots of this story are very well developed. The mystery itself had plenty of suspects with motive. The victim had done some really terrible things. Dani is a great investigator, people opened up to her so easily. She tries to help everyone she talks to, even when she was facing the murderer. This blends in with the romantic tension Dani and Spencer have every time they are in the vicinity with each other and Dani having to deal with a request from her ex.

I do enjoy the college campus setting. There are tons of possibilities for future stories.

I did have a couple of minor concerns. The author mentions her Scumble River series and ties a couple of characters to characters in that series. This may be likable for fans of that series but may be off-putting to those who have not yet read that series. Also, while the Epilogue wraps up this story,  Dani comes off just a little bit preachy at the end.

I am excited to see where Ms. Swanson takes this series. I am invested in the characters and can’t wait for the next story.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River Mysteries, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries, the Change of Heart romances, and the Delicious romances She worked as a school psychologist for twenty-two years before quitting to write full-time. She lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr.

 




I want to share my advance review copy with you!

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

Jan 122018
 

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.

This is a series I am going to try to catch up on before the next book in the series, I Know What You Bid Last Summer comes out at the end of February.


The Longest Yard Sale (A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Kensington (June 30, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1617730191
Kindle ASIN: B00ONTS4UM

 

 

ONE MAN’S CLUTTER

When Sarah Winston turns Ellington, Massachusetts, into New England’s largest garage sale for a day, it’s the small town’s biggest event since the start of the Revolutionary War—but without the bloodshed. That is, until a valuable painting goes missing…and the lifeless body of an Air Force officer is found in Carol Carson’s painting studio, his face perfectly framed with the murder weapon—a metal picture frame.

IS ANOTHER MAN’S CLOVER

Sarah is mad as heck that someone used her town-wide garage sale to commit a crime—and frame her good friend Carol. She is definitely on this case…but it’s not easy rummaging through increasingly strange clues that point to cheating spouses, downright dirty investment schemes—even the mob. And Sarah will have to be very careful if she wants to live to bargain another day…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Book #2 of this series has Sarah Winston organizing a huge garage sale, the largest in New England. The day arrives with crowds of people, traffic jams, happy customers, and a very happy town manager. The tourists would come for the sale and spend money and then she hoped would come back again and again. But then, a man is found murdered at the Paint and Wine studio and a painting is missing. Then another valuable painting is stolen from the library.  Sarah’s ex, C. J. Hooker is ready to pin the crimes on Carol Carson, the owner of the studio and Sarah’s friend. With the town’s garage sale over Sarah has some time on her hands and she is going to use it bag the real culprit. The clues have her chasing all over town and the Air Force base. She may solve more than one mystery before she wraps up her investigation.

I love Sarah Winston. Between her garage sale business, dating two men, her ex, and Seth, the local district attorney, and volunteering a the base thrift store, she is one busy woman. But she uses all of it to try to catch a killer. People open up to her very easily and she can do a little snooping under the guise of garage sale business. Her friends are great sources too. She also has no problem asking C.J. and Seth for information either. Every character that the author has created comes off realistically. They have grown since the first book. I enjoyed getting to know all of them a little better.

The mystery this time has several tangents with twists galore. The story starts a little slow but then the pace picks up as more clues are revealed and the motive becomes more clear. There is a lot of ground covered in this story, but by the end, the plot and subplots come together nicely with just a little romantic cliffhanger that has me excited to read book #3.

I love the author’s writing style, the way she shares life on an Air Force Base and it’s neighboring town. The way she picks up that Boston accent and the way real people talk. The dialogue in this story is excellent. Her descriptions of time and place clearly enabled me to picture everything that was happening. The mystery was well plotted and real life was portrayed honestly. The romance was depicted well and made me laugh more than a few times.

I am late to the party for this series but hope to catch up before I Know What You Bid Last Summer comes out at the end of February.

 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Agatha award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

Find out more about Sherry on her webpage here.


I am giving away my paperback 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.
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Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

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5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End January 26, 2018, 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.”

 

Jan 102018
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am always happy when Laura Bradford drops by for a visit! 

First Suspend, Then Fun

By Laura Bradford

Author of Dial M For Mousse,
an Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery

When you write a cozy mystery you have certain aspects you must adhere to, not the least of which is the whole small-town/amateur sleuth backdrop. In and of itself, basing a story in a small town provides lots of background fodder—gossip, connections, fights, secrets, etc.  But when it comes to the mystery component and the fact that murder must happen in this small town again and again (and again), you need your readers to be willing to suspend reality to an extent. Still, just as they need to accept the fact that ten murders have happened in quaint little Nowheresville, Ohio in as many (or less) years, you, as the writer, must make your sleuth’s reason for getting involved believable. Because really, why is the average-Joe bookseller going to keep putting herself in harm’s way to solve yet another murder?

It’s that challenge that I find particularly fun about writing a cozy mystery. I like seeing how the main murder plot can draw my main character toward it, rather than away from it like most normal people would go.

Just by the very nature of my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, my main character, Winnie Johnson, is on the go—delivering her emergency themed desserts to college dorm rooms, businesses, personal residences, and even local politicians. So the potential for her to stumble across something out of the ordinary is higher than, say, a bookseller who stays in one place. But even if she comes across a body, there has to be a reason she’d want to get involved rather than just go home, detox with a hunk of chocolate, and let the local cops do their job.

In Éclair and Present Danger, the debut book in the series, grief propels Winnie to get involved when her elderly neighbor is murdered.

In The Silence of the Flans, book #2 in the series, desperation propels Winnie to get involved when the victim dies while eating one of her desserts.

And in Dial M for Mousse, the latest book in the series, anger propels Winnie to get involved when a routine delivery is manipulated into an alibi for murder.

So while it may be hard to fathom stumbling across dead bodies on a routine basis, everyone, on some level, knows grief…and desperation…and anger. And as long as we can identify on some level, suspending reality for our small town backdrop isn’t all that difficult. In fact, it’s actually kind of fun…

~Laura

Thank you for visiting today, Laura!


Dial M for Mousse (An Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Ohio
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 2, 2018)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425281253
Kindle ASIN: B06Y573L55

 

 

Murder takes the cake in an irresistible Emergency Dessert Squad mystery from the national bestselling author of The Silence of the Flans.

The Emergency Dessert Squad business is booming, with owner and baker Winnie Johnson working overtime to satisfy the emergency cravings of Silver Lake, Ohio. Her latest order, a plate of motivational desserts for an artists’ retreat, is just what she needs to keep her mind off her own relationship woes.

But Winnie’s problems seem like trifles when she discovers the body of retreat owner Sally Dearfield mere inches away from five oh-so-eccentric and viable suspects. Now, this baking detective must uncover the inspiration behind Sally’s murder before another creative genius is iced.

RECIPES INCLUDED

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Winnie’s business continues to grow. With all her friend’s help, she creates delectable desserts to rescue her customers from things like a bad breakup, loss of a job, and anything else you can imagine. In this story, she has been asked to bake up motivational treats for a group of artists with different talents at a local retreat. After she delivers the goodies she goes to tell the owner and finds her dead on the floor with all the artists standing nearby. The police immediately suspect foul play and Winnie has a dessert connection with all the viable suspects which lands her right in the middle of another murder investigation.

The author has created a very unique theme for this series. After the expenses of having a bakery in a storefront became beyond what Winnie could afford she started a home-based business and uses an old ambulance she inherited to deliver her desserts to her customers. The treats even arrive on a stretcher complete with icing IV’s. She also inherited a cat that goes along for each delivery.

The characters are all very well developed. Most of Winnie’s friends are senior citizens and she has a real bond with them. They along with her best friend Renee are her taste testers and her confidants. Renee is also Winnie’s only employee.  Her romantic relationship with a local college professor, who she met when making a delivery to him, is a little murky. His teenage daughter does not like her father giving anyone else attention and she has done everything she can to break them up.

I thought solving the murder this time would be easy as we knew from the start there were only five suspects, but it turned out to be very complex. None were very forthcoming and all appeared to be hiding something. Winnie didn’t give up though and I really enjoyed following each little hint and clue right along with her.

The clever theme of this series, interesting characters, and a very imaginative plot kept this reader very entertained. All the dessert talk and descriptions made my mouth water. I loved the names Winnie gave her goodies.

A fun read that stands on its own but the series is better served if you start at the beginning.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Laura Bradford is the national bestselling author of many mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, and the brand new Tobi Tobias Mysteries. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, will release in June 2018. When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

To learn more, visit her website: www.laurabradford.com, or hang out with her on Facebook. She can also be found occasionally tweeting at @Bradfordauthor.

 

Also by Laura Bradford

Click here for more books by Laura Bradford.

Click Here for books written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey.


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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.

Sign Up for Laura Bradford’s newsletter for 3 Bonus Entries.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End January 24, 2018, 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.”

Another Man's Poison (A Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery) by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa Buy Today!
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