Posted in 2020 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Guest Posts New Release Challenge Purrfect Reading Challenge Read The Printed Word Challenge What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Jennifer J. Chow – Author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (A Sassy Cat Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway @JenJChow

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer J. Chow back to Escape With Dollycas!

Living in La La Land
By Jennifer J. Chow
Guest Post Provided by Publicist

            I’d never planned on living in Los Angeles. However, I ended up moving here in order to get my master’s degree at UCLA. At the time, I figured I’d flee the traffic-heavy, smog-infested area right after completing my required two years of study. Well, fast forward a few years, and I’d stayed put.

I ended up working in the area and had gotten married by then, so I chose to settle down. I started re-evaluating my initial (and sometimes faulty) impressions of Los Angeles and found many silver linings to staying.

Here are my top five fact vs. fiction insights:

    1. Lotsa traffic. Okay, this perception is true. I personally experienced the slow crawl of cars leaving downtown Los Angeles and trailing behind others’ taillights on the congested freeway. However, as a local, I’ve now discovered sneaky ways to bypass the traffic. I often switch to local roads to speed up my traveling. Also, by knowing the traffic patterns, I pick more optimal times for driving to avoid getting stuck.
    2. Smog city. Los Angeles is known for its air pollution. We do have unclean air, but at least on the American Lung Association’s website, we’re not number one for particle pollution—that distinction goes to the Central Valley. We are, though, tops for having high ozone levels. However, we’re aware of the problem, and officials are trying to brainstorm innovative solutions to improve the air quality here. As an aside, I actually appreciate how the smog creates prettier sunsets—those gorgeous reds and oranges are amazing to behold.
    3. Baywatch bodies. When I first got to L.A., I remember seeing (and hearing) advertisements about how I could create a more improved version of myself, whether by eating vitamins, exercising, or undergoing surgery. This fixation on appearance confounded me, but I thought, “Maybe it’s because we’re so close to Hollywood.” While I have seen some knockouts in L.A., what I’ve noticed more is the diversity of the people who live here. There are different ages, ethnicities, and body types, and I love this variety. Bonus: There’s a huge array of delicious cuisines to choose from because of the vast number of cultures represented in the area.
    4. Natural disasters. Yes, we’re prone to earthquakes (and it is common that people sometimes barely blink at a tremor, as depicted in A. Story—a movie others made me watch when I first arrived in Los Angeles). Beyond the disasters, though, we also have access to natural marvels. There are rugged mountains and verdant forests to the north, plus golden sand and glistening waves to the west. Even the stark beauty of the desert is nearby, like at Joshua Tree National Park.
    5. Hollywood glitz. In grad school, my roommate oohed over how she’d seen the ponytail of a celebrity. I’ve also known coworkers who would haunt Pink’s Hot Dogs just to get a glimpse of somebody famous. And out-of-town friends do enjoy purchasing a Star Map and spying on celebrity homes. I myself enjoyed the excitement of a red carpet event one time—okay, so I was only within googling distance. However, I have rubbed shoulders with a few better-known figures and up-and-coming creative individuals. What I appreciate about meeting them isn’t their glamour but their artistry and perseverance. I connect with them since I’m also pursuing my own passion of writing.

I hope both the fabulous and quirky atmosphere of Los Angeles comes through in my newest novel, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue. The first in the new Sassy Cat mystery series, it features an L.A. pet groomer whose dream career gets disrupted when she becomes a suspect in the murder of a dog breeder. But with the help of her snarky cat and a dreamy lawyer neighbor, maybe she can get back to living the LA dream and running her store, Hollywoof.

So, even if you can’t come and visit L.A., perhaps you can do some virtual traveling through my book. Wishing you lots of happy reading!

~Jennifer

Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting today!

Now let me give you my thoughts on Mimi Lee Gets A Clue


Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (A Sassy Cat Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Berkley (March 10, 2020)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1984804995
ISBN-13: 978-1984804990
Kindle – ASIN: B07VG4QTFQ

Mimi Lee is in over her head. There’s her new Los Angeles pet grooming shop to run, her matchmaking mother to thwart, her talking cat Marshmallow to tend to—oh, and the murder of a local breeder to solve…now if only Mimi hadn’t landed herself on top of the suspect list.

 

Mimi Lee hoped to give Los Angeles animal lovers something to talk about with her pet grooming shop, Hollywoof. She never imagined that the first cat she said hello to would talk back or be quite so, well, catty—especially about those disastrous dates Mimi’s mother keeps setting up.

 

When Marshmallow exposes local breeder Russ Nolan for mistreating Chihuahuas, Mimi steals some of her cat’s attitude to tell Russ off. The next day the police show up at Hollywoof. Russ has been found dead, and Mimi’s shouting match with him has secured her top billing as the main suspect.

 

Hoping to clear her name and save the pups Russ left behind, Mimi enlists help from her dreamy lawyer neighbor Josh. But even with Josh on board, it’ll take Mimi and Marshmallow a lot of sleuthing and more than a little sass to get back to the pet-grooming life—and off the murder scene.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

Los Angeles has a new place to take your pets for grooming. Hollywoof is operated by Mimi Lee and she just hopes she gets enough customers to keep her business afloat.

The first day her sister drops by with a surprise, a fluffy white Persian cat with big blue eyes. Mimi does prefer dogs but she can’t say no. The cat is soon named Marshmallow, a name he clearly doesn’t like and let’s er know in a surprising way.

Mimi is single but her mother has a plan for that. Mimi plays along for the most part because she has other concerns. Several customers are bringing in Chihuahuas from various services and she notices they all have health issues. When she learns that all came from the same local breeder she decides to investigate. She gets into a war of words with the man, witnessed by one of his neighbors.  Mimi then reports the breeder to the proper authorities for violations. When a Police Detective Brown shows up a Hollywoof he is not there to talk about the mistreatment of animals. He is there to question her about the breeder’s murder. What!

In efforts to clear her name, Mimi starts rubbing elbows with her client’s well-to-do owners and she hires a lawyer, Josh, an easy on the eyes neighbor, she met while doing laundry. Marshmallow also becomes a key member of the investigation team.

______

I love Marshmallow! Haven’t you always wanted to know what your pet is thinking? The author created this fun character and explains how he learned everything he knows. So lighthearted and funny.

We get to know Mimi Lee pretty well in this first book of the series. She is petite, smart, mid-twenties, but you can tell she has led a bit of a sheltered life due to her upbringing. Her mother is Asian American and her father is caucasian. He’s pretty laid back. She is all in both her daughter’s business or forces one daughter, Mimi, the eldest to interfere in the younger sister’s business. Sometimes this goes unbelievably too far. Mimi has opened a new business without much of a plan and is running it with a seat of the pant’s attitude. Thankfully, she grows over the course of this book and so does her business.  Her mother’s efforts to find Mimi find a man are pretty comical though. The family dynamics are interesting.

I really enjoyed this fresh take for an amateur sleuth team, not your typical Sherlock and Watson.  The mystery was very well done and exceeded my expectations for the first book in a series. The actual detective on the case seemed to be glued to his initial thought even when Mimi tried to give me details she had uncovered. Breeders like the one in this story are a hot topic these days and Ms. Chow gives it a fantastic fictional spin. She plots a twisted up mystery to find who killed the awful man responsible for the poor puppies. Mimi got her clue well before I did. I was very entertained following along with her to clear her name and get justice for the lovable pooches and find them fur-ever homes.

Mimi Lee Gets A Clue gives readers an intriguing mystery with plenty of suspects and twists. I am curious to see how all the characters develop more. Mimi is more Nancy Drew than Jessica Fletcher, meaning she doesn’t have the sage experience needed the help solve complex mysteries, but her youth brings a real freshness to the cozy mystery genre. The rest of the characters need to be more fleshed out to support her and get readers engaged and invested in their lives. For me, Sassy Cat Marshmallow stole the show!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Jennifer J. Chow grew up reading Garfield comics and adores creating sassy kit lit. She also writes the Winston Wong mysteries, which feature a regular meowing cat. Her other Asian American novels include Dragonfly Dreams (a Teen Vogue pick) and The 228 Legacy.

She’s involved in Crime Writers of Color, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Like her on Facebook and Follow her on GoodReads and Twitter. Connect on Instagram @jenjchow

Coming November 10, 2020

Also by this Author

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

Follow Berkley Mystery on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries.

Leave a comment for the author for 5 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 share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End April 1, 2020, 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.”

Posted in 2020 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Literary Escapes New Release Challenge Read The Printed Word Challenge What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Stephanie Cole – Author of Al Dente’s Inferno (A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am delighted to welcome Stephanie Cole to Escape With Dollycas today!

My Inspiration for the Tuscan Cooking School Mystery Series

by Stephanie Cole
Post provided by Publicist

            For some people, inspiration happens in one single, gobsmacking moment when your imagination is positively alight with The Idea. In those five or ten seconds, your life appears to you in a different guise: suddenly you have better clothes, funnier jokes, the kind of memorable laugh that others will want to imitate. The inspired Idea has brilliance and gravitas. Your whole life has moved inexorably to this moment and will never be the same. You go from having had — when you really strip it down — a pretty good idea about something (say, why the hero is wearing a Mets cap), to suddenly seeing yourself as She Who is Inspired. A kind of permanent, enviable state.

Poor inspiration. We have such unrealistic hopes for it!

In my own writing life, inspiration happens in stages. Some part of an idea arrives, and I sit with it — or, as I go about mixing darks and whites for the laundry and trying to track down the smell in the fridge, it sits with me. A casual comment from someone may turn out to be the first piece. In the case of the Tuscan Cooking School Mystery Series, my agent, John Talbot, and I were having a beer together at Malice Domestic two years ago, after I’d been through a long stretch of failed proposals for mystery series. John up and said something along the lines of “Gee, I wish you could get back to something like the Italian Restaurant series.” (Note: I’m not sure about the “gee.”) A casual comment, right? But I felt something happen inside, a little thrill of what I called rightness. There was something right and exciting about what he said. Suddenly I had a direction for my next attempt to scale the publishing fortress.

stephanie cole al dentes inferno When I returned home, I had my next puzzle piece of information that sharpened the beginnings of The Idea. All I had was Italian cooking. What I needed was the premise. In my mind, I tracked cozy mysteries’ travels from the U.S.A. to the U.K. Cozies were going a bit transatlantic, weren’t they? Popular series set in Scotland and Ireland were cropping up. Ahh, said Inspiration in my ear, how long will it be before they jump the Channel and turn up in Europe? For once, I felt like I was absolutely on to something, and that I was ahead of the curve.

But where, where, where, to set a new cozy series set in Europe? It didn’t take me long to choose Italy. I’ve been, I’m going, I’ve got family there, I’ve read Donna Leon, and I like Italian cooking. It didn’t take long to choose. . .not Tuscany at first, oh no. Here’s an important point about inspiration: sometimes it isn’t.  My original premise: I would set the series on the Italian Riviera (a sentimental nod to my family) and my heroine/sleuth would own an olive estate.

Excited, I wrote up my new proposal, which included a series overview and sample chapters, and sent it off to John.

He and his partner, Gail Fortune, discussed it and got back to me with a key change that might make the difference between success and failure.  Another truth about inspiration? Sometimes it’s someone else’s. What they told me was this: Move it to Tuscany and make it a cooking school. And this simple shift in the premise felt like a thunderbolt to me. I knew instantly that they were right. I made the changes, moving the villa to Cortona, where Under the Tuscan Sun was set.

And Nell and Pete and Chef and Annamaria and her sisters who are Sisters welcomed me to the Villa Orlandini Cooking School. These characters were so clear and interesting to me. The final puzzle piece fell into place: It’s a cooking school at the villa of a world-renowned Chef, and its classes are designed for American gastrotourists (yes, it’s a word). Just think, in every book I have a delicious vanload of American foodies turning up at the villa to be either killed, suspected, or homicidally inclined.

A final observation about inspiration. It can start small, it can come to you in pieces and over time and even from someone else’s inspiration. It all counts because however, it arrives — even if it slams you with one single, gobsmacking Idea full of brilliance and gravitas — it sets you on the path of new work that can fill you with creative joy.

~Stephanie

Thank you, Stephanie, for visiting today. 

Keep reading for my thoughts about Al Dente’s Inferno. 

stephanie cole al dente inferno
Al Dente’s Inferno (A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Italy
Publisher: Berkley (February 25, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0593097793
ISBN-13: 978-0593097793
Kindle ASIN: B07TQKN23G

An American chef will have to serve up more than good eats if she wants to establish a successful farm-to-table cooking school in Tuscany, in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in Italy.

 

When Nell Valenti is offered a chance to move to Tuscany to help transform an aging villa into a farm-to-table cooking school, she eagerly accepts. After all, both her job and her love life in America have been feeling stale. Plus, she’ll get the chance to work under the acclaimed Italian Chef Claudio Orlandini.

 

But Nell gets more than she bargained for when she arrives. With only a day to go until the launch dinner for the cooking school, the villa is in shambles, and Chef O is blissfully oblivious of the work that needs to be done before a group of local dignitaries arrive, along with a filmmaker sent to showcase and advertise the new school. The situation only worsens when Nell discovers that the filmmaker is an ex-boyfriend, and he’s found murdered later that night. Even worse, Chef O has disappeared, and accusations of murder could shut the school down for good.

 

As tensions reach a boiling point at the villa, Nell must throw her chef’s hat into the ring, and investigate the murder herself. Because if she fails to solve the case, her career, or even her life, could be next on the chopping block.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

American chef Nell Valenti needs a break from her family, job, and love life in the States so she jumps at the chance to set up a farm-to-table cooking school in Tuscany. The icing on the cake is that she will be working alongside acclaimed Italian Chef Claudio Orlandini.

Her arrival is a little bumpy but she is finally picked up and transported to the villa where the cooking school will be located and where she will be staying. It is nowhere near what she imagined and clearly sees she has her work cut out of her. Sadly, she seems to be the only one that sees the disorder around them and all the repairs and renovation needed to fulfill the needs of a cooking school. Chef Claudio is so excited he has invited a group of dignitaries for a launch dinner. There is also a filmmaker coming to film the school to use in future advertising.

As the guests arrive Nell is shaken to her core. The filmmaker is her ex-boyfriend that she left back in America. The dinner is filled with fits and starts but after it breaks up, the filmmaker is found dead and Claudio is nowhere to be found.

Nell knows her history with the deceased could make her a prime suspect so she decides to investigate the murder herself. An American in the country for only a few days she does her best to find the killer because even with the school in disarray she needs the job and hopes to stay. That is if she survives.


Stephanie Cole has introduced some interesting characters in this story. Nell is a character I could grow to love. She sees she has a mountain to climb in turning an old rundown villa into a cooking school and she doesn’t run off at her first chance, especially when everyone else seems to be wearing rose-colored glasses when they look at the place.  She also hides her shock when meeting Chef Claudio Orlandini. Her hero certainly does not look or act as she expected. Nell becomes attached to the Chef’s son as he gives her the tour of Villa Orlandini, introduces her to all the staff, and translates as needed. They do make a good sleuthing team. We also meet the staff but the author has left plenty of room for growth for all the characters in future stories.

I loved the Tuscan Cooking School theme of the book/series but it is not without a couple of pitfalls.

Setting the series in Tuscany does present a language problem. Most of the characters are going to speak Italian as their first language which means the book is full of translations. This really messed with the flow for me. Sometimes the translations immediately followed in the text, other times we were on our own. I wished I was reading it on my Kindle instead of in paperback because I would have been able to highlight the words and have them quickly translated.

As with most first books in a new cozy series, a great deal of time is spent introducing the characters and setting the scenes for the story, so the mystery is not too complex. There were twists and turns but I figured it out pretty early. I did enjoy the way Nell took on the case.

Ms. Cole’s descriptive talents were on her full display as her words illustrated the villa and everyplace Nell went masterfully.

I did enjoy the liberal use of humor throughout the story. A couple of times I caught myself laughing out loud.

The food descriptions were fantastic too. I wish there had been more recipes at the back of the book. Italian dishes are my faves.

This story had good bones and with a few tweaks, I can see this being a long-running series. Nell and Chef O. are characters I want to get to know better. I also can’t wait to see Villa Orlandini become all it can be. I hope the author takes her time developing a romance for Nell although we can see where it is headed. Nell has enough on her plate without taking on another man. If the filmmaker, Buford Kaplan is the typical man she gets involved with, the girl needs a good long break. 🙂


Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Stephanie Cole is an active member of the mystery writing community. Writing as Shelley Costa, she was nominated for both an Edgar and an Agatha award, and she co-founded the Northeast Ohio chapter of Sisters in Crime. She teaches creative writing workshops and lectures on American literature in the greater Cleveland area. For fun, she takes violin lessons, studies Art History—and eyes them both for murder plots.


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The 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.

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.

Follow Berkley Mystery on Twitter for 2 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 share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End March 25, 2020, 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.”

Posted in Giveaways Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2019 What's In A Name Challenge

The Friday Night Knitting Club (Friday Night Knitting Club Novels) by Kate Jacobs #Review / #Giveaway

Thanks to the What’s In A Name Challenge I was able to pull this book off my TBR shelf
where it has been almost since the book was released.

The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club
(Friday Night Knitting Club Novels)

Contemporary Women’s Fiction
1st in Series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (January 18, 2007)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 0399154094
ISBN-13: 978-0399154096
Kindle ASIN: B001269F9I

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Once a week, an eclectic group of women comes together at a New York City yarn shop to work on their latest projects—and share the stories of their lives…

At the center of Walker and Daughter is the shop’s owner, Georgia, who is overwhelmed with juggling the store and single-handedly raising her teenage daughter. Happy to escape the demands of her life, she looks forward to her Friday Night Knitting Club, where she and her friends—Anita, Peri, Darwin, Lucie, and KC—exchange knitting tips, jokes, and their deepest secrets. But when the man who once broke Georgia’s heart suddenly shows up, demanding a role in their daughter’s life, her world is shattered.

Luckily, Georgia’s friends are there for encouragement, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle-making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they’ve created isn’t just a knitting club: it’s a sisterhood.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A diverse group of New York women gathers on Friday nights at Walker and Daughter to learn to knit, work on current projects, and share their life stories around a table with a little snack provider by the daughter part of Walker and Daughter.

Single mom Georgia Walker owns the 2nd-floor yarn shop. She lives with her 12-year-old daughter on the 3rd floor. Anita Lowenstein encouraged Georgia to open the business even helping with the money needed. She is like a mother to Georgia and grandmother to her daughter. They work side by side every day. Peri Gayle works part-time while taking classes at FIT. Darwin Chiu is working on her thesis, K.C. Silverman is Georgia’s friend from when she worked in publishing, Lucie makes an abrupt appearance at the shop and is welcomed right into the fold. Cat, a childhood friend of Georgia’s becomes a defacto member of the group when they reconnect.

Georgia is happy with her life until the man she thought loved her but left her and broke her heart returns and wants to get to know his daughter. In support of her and offering support to each other, the Friday Night Knitting Club becomes much more than knitting sweaters and scarves, it becomes their lifeline.

___

I have been waiting to read this book for a long time and I knew it wouldn’t be a book I could rush through so I finally allowed myself the time I needed. I am so glad I did.

These characters are rich with backstories, diverse in age and experience and genuine in their feelings. Georgia and Anita’s relationship has stood the test of time. They found each other when they needed someone to lean on and support and their friendship never wavered. The other core members of the Friday Night Knitting Group each needed support too in different ways and the sistership that unfolded as the story continued was heartwarming. The ties they built would be vital especially as life takes a turn.

I really enjoyed that Georgia took her daughter to Scotland to meet her great grandmother and to find her roots. I loved Gran, a smart woman, full of wisdom. She and Georgia had a strong bond that survived even with an ocean between them and infrequent visits.

The Friday Night Knitting Club is a story filled with the realistic journey of each person who has found their way into Georgia’s life.  The fun times, the sad times, the painful times, life is complicated. My emotions were struggling as we got closer to the end when an event shook me as well as the characters to their core.

I know over the years this book has received mixed reviews and like I said it is not a quick read. Depending on your age you may relate differently to each of the characters. I believe I read this book at the right time for me. It touched me and made me think about my own life. It is a book that will stick with me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Kate Jacobs is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club, Knit Two, Knit the Season, and Comfort Food. She telephones hundreds of book clubs each year to discuss her novels with readers and can be reached via her website at http://www.katejacobs.com.  Born in Canada, Kate now lives in Southern California with her husband Jon and their dog Baxter.



I am giving away my hardcover copy! 
The 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.

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

Contest Will End January 2, 2020, 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.”

Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Finish The Series Challenge Read The Printed Word Challenge What's In A Name Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge Time – Part Two

I have already posted about the Reading Challenges I am hosting.

2020 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

2020 Alphabet Soup – Author Edition Reading Challenge

2020 LITERARY ESCAPES CHALLENGE

2020 Craving For Cozies Reading Challenge

So now it is time to start traveling around the blogosphere and find the challenges hosted by others that I want to participate in. Note that all information is copied from the hosting blogs and you must go to their blogs to sign up.


PRINT ONLY 2020 READING CHALLENGE
Hosted by As Told By Tina

It seems I am reading less and less print books each year so I am signing up at the 40-49 – Expert Status level.

You can sign up here. 

Guidelines

  • The Challenge begins January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020
  • All Books read for this challenge MUST BE PHYSICAL BOOKS (paperbacks, hardbacks, picture books)
  • All genres count and re-reading and crossovers are encouraged!
  • Books can be any length.

How To Join

  • Post your intention to join the challenge! A blog post, an instagram picture, a tweet, youtube video, or goodreads shelf will do. It’s whatever works for you.
  • You do not need to be a blogger to join. But I’d love for you to help me spread the word about the challenge.
  • If you are a blogger, I’d love for you to make a sign up post (it doesn’t have to be one whole post dedicated to the challenge, you can include other challenges you are joining) just make sure to link back to the sign up.

Official Challenge Tags #PrintOnly2020

Dates To Remember

In 2019, I had posted monthly link ups for Print Only, however, I found that was way too time consuming. So this year, I decided to do quarterly updates. The link ups will open on the first and close on the last day of the month.

January – March Quarterly Link Up
April – June Quarterly Link Up
July – September Quarterly Link Up
October – December Quarterly Link Up
Readathon News

This year, I decided to add a readathon to For The Love Of Ebooks! The first For The Love of Ebooks readathon will be July 26- August 1. You can follow us on twitter here for all announcements.

Details for the readathon will be released on June 1st.

I decided to add a bingo card to the challenge. THIS IS OPTIONAL! But I divided it up by the four quarters to go with the quarterly link ups. So you have from the first of the month till the last day of the quarter to complete the card, if you decide to do the bingo option.

First Quarter Bingo
Second Quarter Bingo
Third Quarter Bingo
Fourth Quarter Bingo
Levels

The goal of Print Only is to challenge yourself, so I’d love for you to pick a level. You are NOT locked into the goal, you can move up and down as you need. I totally understand that life happens and sometimes you just need to scale back.


1-9 – Rookie Status
10-19 – Semi Pro Status
20-29 – Pro Status
30-39 – Veteran Status
40-49 – Expert Status
50-59 – Master Status
60+ Legend Status
Announce Your Intentions

If you’d like to use the following tweets or images to announce that you are joining the challenge, please feel free to do so.


2020 FINISHING THE SERIES READING CHALLENGE
Hosted by Celebrity Readers

This series gives me the push I need and help me clear my TBR stacks. I am again signing up at the B-LIST SERIES FINISHER ⇒ COMPLETE 5-8 SERIES. 

Sign Up Here!

We’re back for another year!!  This challenge is focused on finally finishing those series that you’ve started but not yet completed.  It was previously hosted by Bea’s Book Nook, but we’ve been hosting it since 2018.

January to March Link-Up
April to June Link-Up
July to September Link-Up
October to December Link-Up

Guidelines:

While we’re pretty lax about how you wish to set up this challenge for yourself, we do have a few guidelines to follow.

  • The challenge will run from January 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020.  Books must be read during this time frame to count.  Sign up is open from now until December 1st, 2020, so you may join even just for the last month of the year.
  • Series can be already completed as well as still ongoing.  For ongoing series, the goal is to catch up to the most recent book published by the end of 2020.
  • We don’t care if you have only 1 book or 10 books to read in order to finish your series, as long as you’ve started the series before 2020 (ie read at least one book in the series), it counts.  Re-reads are not required.
  • Any format and length of book counts – print, ebook, audio, ARC, etc.
  • Series can be any length (even if it’s just a Duet).
  • Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable!
  • Reviews are not required but highly encouraged.

How to Play:

  • Declare your intentions to participate in this challenge somewhere on the internet!!  You do not need to be a blogger to participate, there are many ways to declare.  You could write a blog post, create a reading challenge page, create a Goodreads shelf containing series you hope to finish, post about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Some things you could include (but that aren’t required):
    • A link to this page so that others may find us and join the fun as well (feel free to download the button at the top to use in your posts).
    • A list of series you hope to read for this challenge.  You could even get fancy and list the length of the series, or the books you’ve already read, etc.
    • The level you are aiming for.
  • Sign up for the challenge using the link up below, and link directly to where you’ve declared your intentions (ie to the specific blog post, the goodreads shelf, the facebook post, etc).
  • We will be posting quarterly link ups for you to add links to your reviews or any wrap-up/overview posts you wish to share.
  • Go forth and READ!!  And have fun!!
  • Use the hashtag #FinishingTheSeries2020 on any social media to keep up with other participants!

The Reward:

Uh…your own sense of pride in achieving a goal?  Sorry folks, we’re not actually that motivated by prizes ourselves, so we’re just offering bragging rights.  But we can offer you some pretty graphics to either declare your goal or to use as a badge once achieved!

The Levels:

We offer you 3 different “Celebrity” levels of achievement for this reading challenge:

C-LIST SERIES FINISHER ⇒ COMPLETE 1-4 SERIES.

B-LIST SERIES FINISHER ⇒ COMPLETE 5-8 SERIES.

A-LIST SERIES FINISHER ⇒ COMPLETE 9+ SERIES.

Sign Up!

Cruisin’ Thru The Cozies Reading Challenge 2020
Hosted by Socrates’ Book Reviews…

Since I read a lot of Cozies I am signing up at the Level four (Sleuth Extraordinaire) Level.
You can Sign Up Here. 

Welcome to the tenth annual Cruisin’ thru the Cozies Reading Challenge! Once again, I’m giving challengers two options – one is to read only sub-genres and the other is to read cozy mysteries of your choice.

To find out exactly what a cozy mystery is, check out Cozy-Mystery.com. This site is dedicated to cozy mysteries and does a great job of defining them as well as giving a list of cozy mysteries. This challenge is NOT restricted to what is on their list, it’s just to be used as a guideline in case you need some hints on what to read.

This year’s cozy mystery reading challenge has two ways to participate and you can choose whichever suits you the best:

A) Read only cozy mysteries of your choice.

Or

B) Read one book from these sub-genres:

  • One from culinary (anything dealing with food: restaurants, baked goods, etc.)
  • One from animal related (cats, dogs, birds, etc.)
  • One from craft related (any kind of hobbies – knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, etc.)
  • One from paranormal (witches, vampires, etc.)
  • One from cozy mysteries based outside the US (example: Belinda Lawrence series (British))
  • One career-based cozy mystery (housekeeping, wedding planner, etc.)
  • One holiday based (set during any holiday – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, etc.)
  • One travel mystery (character could be on a cruise, touring another area, etc.)
  • One historical mystery (any mystery not set in the present)
  • One is your choice! (freebie!)

Here are the levels you can join for either A or B…

Level one (Snoop) –
A) Read 10 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read one book in each of the above cozy sub-genres (total of 10 books)

Level two (Investigator) –
A) Read 20 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read all the books in level one plus an additional 10 cozy books of your choice (total of 20)

Level three (Super Sleuth) –
A) Read 30 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read two books from each sub-genre in level one plus an additional 10 cozy books of your choice (total of 30 books)

Level four (Sleuth Extraordinaire) –
A)Read 40 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B)Read two books from each sub-genre in level one plus an additional 20 cozy books of your choice (total of 40 books)

Here are the rules…

  1. The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 and ends December 31, 2020.
  2. You don’t have to choose your books in advance. If you do, you can change your list at any time during the year. Books can overlap with other challenges.

  3. Books can be in any format – paper, audio, ebooks…it all counts!

  4. You don’t have to post a review, but I’m sure others would love to know about the books you are reading and may even want to add it to their reading lists.

NOTE: If you don’t have a blog and want to participate, that’s fine. You don’t have to have a blog, just post in the comments section as you finish books. If you belong to a site like Goodreads and review the books there, that’s fine too. Just leave us the link. I also have a group for this challenge on Goodreads and you can sign up here.

  1. If you do have a blog, take the button above, put it on your blog and post about the challenge. Then add your name to Mr. Linky. Please use the link of your challenge post, not the link to your home page.
  • I’m going to have one link for signing up, one link for completed reviews and one link for your wrap up posts. I won’t be having a monthly link, just one for all reviews read for this challenge.


  • What’s in a Name 2020 Challenge
    Hosted by Carolina Book Nook

    This is a challenge that always tests me.
    You can sign up here.

    Welcome to the 13th annual What’s in a Name challenge! In years past, this challenge was hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. I took over for 2019 and I’m excited to host again this year!

    The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

    Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category.

    Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

    Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

    You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.

    Sign up using the Mr Linky with a link to your WIAN challenge page/post, not your main blog URL. Feel free to save and use the graphic at the top of the page! Also, link back to this sign up page in your challenge post so others can join too.

    The categories below are links to each category sign up link.  Add your book review for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.

    Here are the categories for 2020:

    Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!  Thanks and happy reading!

    This is just part two of my planned challenges. I will post more soon. 

    You can go to the Sleep Less – Read More Facebook page to find many more challenges. A Novel Challenge is also a great resource.

     

    Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
    Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Flashback Friday Giveaways Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2019 TBR Pile Challenge What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

    #FlashbackFriday – A Batter of Life and Death: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander #Review / #Giveaway @BakeshopMystery


    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.


    A Batter of Life and Death: A Bakeshop Mystery
    Cozy Mystery
    2nd in Series
    Setting – Oregon
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 30, 2015)
    Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
    ISBN-10: 1250054249
    ISBN-13: 978-1250054241
    Kindle ASIN: B00QQ1GKRE

    Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for…

    It’s autumn in Ashland, Oregon-’tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte’s famous peach cobbler. It’s also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family’s beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel’s reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

    Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?

    Dollycas’s Thoughts 

    Can Jules Capshaw Take the Cake? The Pastry Channel’s show has come to Ashland, Oregon and she is representing the family’s bakeshop, Torte, as a contestant against four other pastry chefs. Her family sure could use the $25000 prize to continue their improvements to their business.

    Jules has baked a Bavarian Chocolate Cake for the day’s challenge but when she arrives on the set she finds one of the competing chefs dead. The powers that be commit to continuing the show as soon as the police release the set, but Jules wants to know – Who killed the chef? Are the rest of the chefs in danger? and most importantly – Is one of the chefs the killer? She starts doing a little snooping on her own to find answers before another chef gets frosted.

    ___

    Ms. Alexander’s characters are so likable. Jules, her mom, their employees, Thomas, the Professor, and more all make me wish I could visit Torte and meet them all. All are genuine and believable. They are joined this time by a group of pastry chefs that are diverse in their specialties along with the small crew from The Pastry Channel who each have something to prove. All these new visitors are viable suspects and seem to have secrets. I liked that some of the chefs ended using Torte’s kitchen to create their show entries. It allowed both Jules and us readers to get to know them better. It also made clear how patient  Jules and mom, Helen could be with strangers in their kitchen. They also handled a little strife between two employees with time and patience.

    Readers are treated to a little romance too, as relationships evolve through normal everyday life. Jules is still trying to sort things through will Carlos as the clock ticks down on their break.

    I love watching shows like Take the Cake so I was thrilled with this theme. The author created a marvelous whodunit around that theme giving Jules plenty of opportunity to sift through the clues and follow them as need be. Several twists spin to keep everyone guessing. With Helen and Jules’ tight connection to the chief of police, aka, The Professor and Detective-In-Training, Thomas, they keep them informed in everything they find and don’t hesitate to call for help when needed. I like that.

    I can’t forget to mention the food. Most of the luscious pastries and desserts. I say most because there are a couple that clearly were not baked by the chef that presented them. Daily life at the bakeshop also adds more delightful treats and morning breakfast ideas. The schedule and the workings of the shop are also interesting. The realistic fact it is a hard business on a tight budget is also appreciated and grounds the whole series in reality.

    Awesome characters, a fantastic setting, and a wonderful mystery all make A Batter of Life and Death a delectable cozy mystery and A Perfect Escape. The sample taste of On Thin Icing included at the end of the story has whet my appetite to read more of this series soon.

    Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

    You can read my review of Meet Your Baker here. 

    About the Author

    Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley), author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

    Author Links –  Facebook     Twitter      Instagram    GoodReads

    Written as Kate Dyer-Seeley

    I am giving my copy away!
    The 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.

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

    Contest Will End December 20, 2019, 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

    *This book was from my personal collection. 

    Posted in Flashback Friday Giveaways Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2019 TBR Pile Challenge What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

    #FlashbackFriday – The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow – #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.

    This book was recommended to me several years ago and it has been sitting on my To-Be-Read shelf ever since. I was so happy that one of the books required for the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge was “Contains the word “girl” or “woman”. This book fits to a T.


    The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
    Cultural Heritage Fiction / Contemporary Literature & Fiction
    Setting – Various
    Algonquin Books (January 11, 2010)
    Hardcover: 256 pages
    ISBN-10: 1565126807
    ISBN-13: 978-1565126800
    Paperback: 304 pages
    ISBN-10: 1616200154
    ISBN-13: 978-1616200152
    Kindle ASIN: B004GKNBX8

    Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.

    Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity.

    This searing and heartwrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society’s ideas of race and class is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    Eleven-year-old Rachel Morse is living with her grandmother in Portland following a day that left her the only survivor of her family. Her father was an African American G.I. and her mother was Danish. They met, fell in love and had a family. Moving to Chicago things were hard for her mother and their mixed children.

    After the deaths of the rest of her family  Rachel moves in with her very strict African American grandmother she finds herself surrounded in a black community with her light brown skin and beautiful blue eyes. She misses her “Mor”, mother in Danish, and her siblings so much. As she grows she becomes more aware of what really happened all those years ago.

    ____

    This was such a moving story. Told in two parts from different points of view over several years. It was a little confusing at first but the author makes it work. Each character has a distinct voice and their own baggage.

    Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner may have been released in 1967 but in the early ’80s biracial marriages were still not as accepted in the U.S. as they were in Europe. Rachel’s mother Nella tried to do everything putting her children first. When tragedy strikes Rachel is the only one left. Now she has to deal with the prejudice on her own while finding out who she really is and how she can survive. She also learns she wasn’t the only one trying to move on from that fateful day.

    Most of this story is full of heartwrenching moments. You can feel Rachel’s pain. She’s black, but not black enough, she has startling blue eyes that set her apart, her hair isn’t right, she talks “like a white person”.  A complex coming of age story with so much adversity. Rachel tries so hard to deal with everything on her own and that really ripped me apart. There are a few softer moments but this was a heavy read. There was a little bit of hope in the end but it left me wondering where is Rachel today?

     The Girl Who Fell from the Sky will have you feeling a bucket full of emotions as you escape into Rachel’s story. A complex, gripping story that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.

    Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

    About the Author – From Amazon
    Heidi W. Durrow is the New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books), which received writer Barbara Kingsolver’s 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize, and is already a book club favorite. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky has been hailed as one of the Best Novels of 2010 by the Washington Post, a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The Oregonian, a Top 10 Buzz Book of 2010 by the Boston Herald and named a Top 10 Debut of 2010 by Booklist. Ebony Magazine named Heidi as one of its Power 100 Leaders of 2010 along with writers Edwidge Danticat, and Malcolm Gladwell. Heidi was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut.

    Heidi W. Durrow is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School.

    Originally from Portland, Oregon, Heidi has worked as a corporate litigator at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and as a Life Skills trainer to professional athletes of the National Football League and National Basketball Association. She was the co-host of the award-winning weekly podcast Mixed Chicks Chat and now host of The Mixed Experience; and was a founder and executive producer of the now defunct Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival. She is now spearheading the Mixed Remixed Festival, an annual free public event, that celebrates stories of the Mixed experience. She is an occasional essay contributor to National Public Radio.

    She is the recipient of a Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Writers, a Jentel Foundation Residency, and won top honors in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and the Chapter One Fiction Contest. She has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the American Scandinavian Foundation, the Roth Endowment and the American Antiquarian Society. She has also received Fellowships to the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Durrow’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Ebony Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Callaloo, Poem/Memoir/Story, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Essence magazine, and Newsday.

    I am giving away my hardcover copy!
    The 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 share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
    5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

    Contest Will End October 18, 2019, 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.”

    Posted in Cloak and Dagger Challenge Giveaways Literary Escapes Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2019 What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

    Singapore Sapphire (A Harriet Gordon Mystery) by A. M. Stuart – #Review / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery

    Singapore Sapphire (A Harriet Gordon Mystery)
    Historial Mystery/ Amateur Sleuth
    1st in Series
    Setting – Singapore
    Berkley (August 6, 2019)
    Paperback: 384 pages
    ISBN-10: 198480264X
    ISBN-13: 978-1984802644
    Kindle ASIN: B07KDW7YKS

    Early twentieth-century Singapore is a place where a person can disappear, and Harriet Gordon hopes to make a new life for herself there, leaving her tragic memories behind her–but murder gets in the way.

    Singapore, 1910–Desperate for a fresh start, Harriet Gordon finds herself living with her brother, a reverend and headmaster of a school for boys, in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold–explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club–dead with a knife in his throat.

    When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet’s keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.

    When another body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a murderous web of treachery and deceit and find themselves face-to-face with a ruthless cabal that has no qualms about killing again to protect its secrets.

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    I was a little hesitant when I opened the book to a glossary and a cast of characters. I was afraid the different dialects were going to mess with the flow and I like to get to know the characters myself as I read the story, especially for the first book of a series. So I skimmed the glossary and ignored the cast list and jumped right in. What I found was a unique mystery with very interesting characters in a fascinating setting.

    Harriet Gordon lost both her husband and child to Typhus in India. She returned to England and became involved in the Suffragette Movement and got into a bit of trouble. She then decided to join her brother, a minister, and headmaster of a school in Singapore. There was work there for her to do but with no pay. To earn money she placed an ad to be a personal secretary. Her first client was Sir Oswald Newbold, a man well known for his exploration and a mining magnate. He was also president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club. He had hired Harriet to transcribe his memoirs to get them ready for publication. Her employment ends abruptly when she finds the man dead in his home.

    Inspector Robert Curran arrives on the scene and sees Harriet is a formidable woman with a keen sense of observation. He also feels she is hiding something. Something not pertaining to the death but something that is holding her back. Inspector Curran is holding something personal back from her as well, but beyond that, he believes she can help him with his case.

    These characters are very well-developed for the first book in a series, but the author has left them plenty of room to grow. I enjoyed the way a friendship was built between them. The author also surrounds these characters with a diverse cast. Young students from the school, the staff, her brother to everyone we meet as we follow along with the investigation. All the characters are strong even those with minor parts to play. There are a lot of characters but I had no trouble keeping them straight.

    The descriptions of Singapore, 1910, are vivid and I could tell the author was familiar with the setting and had researched it greatly.  It was no surprise when her biography stated she had lived there. Her words definitely transported this reader back in time to a place I knew very little about. She even captured the weather and makes her readers feel it. I was sweating in sympathy for the characters.

    The mystery was an imaginative jewel. Precisely plotted, with culture and time are clearly portrayed. The pace had a slow build but really picked up about halfway in. The story was complex with twist after twist. The ending was suspenseful and kept me on my toes until everything was revealed.

    Singapore Sapphire was an extraordinary read and I am looking forward to my next adventure with Harri and the good inspector. This series is off to an excellent start.

    Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

    About A.M. Stuart 

    Australian author, A.M. Stuart, learned her passion for history from her father and began her writing career halfway up a tree in the school playground where she wrote her first (unpublished) historical romance.

    There have been many published, and multi award-nominated, historical romances (writing as Alison Stuart) since then but her first love has always been historical mystery.

    Born in Kenya, her family came to Australia when she was ten years old. As an adult, she lived in Singapore for a number of years, where the idea for the Harriet Gordon Mysteries first crystallized.

    In her life outside writing, she enjoyed a varied career as a lawyer in a wide number of fields including the military (where she held the rank of Major) and as a senior executive in the fire services.

    The first of The Harriet Gordon Mysteries, SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE, was published by Berkley in August 2019.

    Readers can connect with A.M. Stuart at her Facebook page, Twitter or subscribe to her newsletter.


    Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
    The 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.

    Follow Berkley Mystery on Twitter for 2 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 share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
    5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

    Contest Will End September 12, 2019, 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.”

    Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge E-Book Challenge Reviews 2018 TBR Pile Challenge What's In A Name Challenge

    #FlashbackFriday – Zero Control by Lori Wilde #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.

    Don’t panic, it is still me and I haven’t given up cozies. Before starting this blog I used to read quite a few Harlequin Romance novels even the Blaze titles like this one. To Complete my Alphabet Soup Challenge and the What’s in A Name Challenge I needed a title that began with “Z”. While searching I found I already had this book downloaded on my Kindle, so I went for the Contemporary Steamy Romance to complete both challenges. A little spice was a nice change. 

    Zero Control
    Contemporary Romance
    Setting – Great Britain
    Harlequin Blaze; (October 15, 2009)
    Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
    ISBN-10: 0373795106
    ISBN-13: 978-0373795109
    Kindle ASIN: B002SVQDXM

    Eros Vacations presents castles, Shakespeare…and sizzlin’ sex!

    Live it up—literary style! Guests are whisked away to Great Britain for two weeks of luxury adventure, history and plenty of naughty possibilities! Whether it’s an illicit tower tryst, a romantic boat ride or even some hot dungeon action, your pleasure is our concern….

    But both executive assistant Roxie Stanley and undercover security agent Dougal Lockhart have their own motives for this vacation. Except that sex—mind-meltingly great sex—is the only thing either can think about. It’s forbidden. It’s tantalizingly irresistible. And they’re losing control…over and over and over!

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    Undercover security agent Dougal Lockhart has been hired by Euros Vacations to find out who is sabotaging their resorts and tours. Roxie Stanley is on the tour as a mole for one of Eros competitors. They meet on the plane from the U.S. to Great Britain and they are immediately attracted to each other. He has signed a morality clause and is not supposed to fraternize with guests. She needs to complete her mission or she won’t get a promotion. A promotion she needs to pay for her sister’s college tuition. Both of them are keeping secrets but it isn’t long before they can deny their passion. What will happen at the end of this fantasy vacation? Will they tell each other the truth? Can they really build a relationship after just knowing each other for two weeks?

    So this story does have a mystery, who is sabotaging Eros Vacations. Are they just pranks or is someone trying to take the company down?

    After that, it is a hot, steamy, close to an erotic story that will have you needing a cold beverage and maybe cranking up the air conditioner. I was surprised by the daring sex scenes. A little bondage in a dungeon, quite a bit a role-playing, I mean the guy was dressed as Shakespeare, ala Shakespeare in Love complete with tight leather pants, a couple of encounters in public places, and some sizzling hot romance in her cottage.

    I did enjoy that there was a story between all the sex. Dougal seemed always to be one step behind the saboteur, even thinking Roxie could be the one causing trouble. They also step in to help to help with a fencing demonstration when the people hired were unable to perform.

    As expected from Harlequin Blaze, this story brought the heat. A spicy read for a cold autumn night. My only complaint, the mystery was not solved by the end of the book.

    Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

    About the Author (from Amazon)

    Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 80 romance novels. She is a three-time RITA award nominee, a four time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee and has won numerous other awards. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and holds a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified yoga instructor.

    Her books have been translated into 27 languages and featured in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Complete Woman, All You, Time and Quick and Simple magazines. She lives in Texas with her husband, Bill.

    Find out more about Lori and her books on her website here.


    I am giving 1 Kindle Copy sent directly from Amazon away.
    The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
    that can receive books from Amazon US.

    Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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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 Finish The Series Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Read The Printed Word Challenge Reviews 2018 TBR Pile Challenge What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

    #FlashbackFriday – Irish Stewed (An Ethnic Eats Mystery) by Kylie Logan #Review / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery

    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.

    Irish Stewed (An Ethnic Eats Mystery)
    Cozy Mystery
    1st in Series
    Setting – Ohio
    A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
    Release Date – May 3, 2016
    Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
    ISBN-13: 978-0425274880
    Kindle ASIN: B013Q70CVK

     

     

    After flopping as a personal chef to a Hollywood movie star, jobless Laurel Inwood finds herself humbled in Hubbard, Ohio, helping her aunt Sophie run her restaurant. Much to Laurel’s dismay, Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks is not the cozy bistro her aunt would have had her believe—it’s a run-down greasy spoon in an old railroad station. To save the dingy diner, Laurel cooks up a plan to feature alternating ethnic cuisine as specials.

    But first, there’s the problem of the body in the booth. Slumped over a table with a receipt spike in his back is Jack Lancer—“the Lance of Justice”—an investigative reporter for local TV news. Assisted by the drop-dead gorgeous owner of the neighboring Irish store—who may or may not be a suspect—Laurel sets out to track down a killer who had no reservations about impaling a newshound. But as she turns up the heat, will she end up in the soup herself?

    INCLUDES RECIPES

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    Laurel Inwood arrives in Hubbard, Ohio to find two surprises.

    1. Her aunt Sophie’s restaurant is in nowhere close to what she expected – more greasy spoon – less cozy bistro cafe.
    2.  There is a dead body in a booth with a receipt spike stuck in his back.

    What can Laurel do? her “aunt” is having surgery tomorrow and needs Laurel to run the restaurant. Maybe she can make a few “minor” changes. . . but how will business really be after someone was murdered there? She has a prime suspect in mind but can that handsome man really be a murderer. He also wants to help her track down the killer. She doesn’t trust him but he knows the residents of Hubbard better than she does. She may need the Luck of the Irish to get her out of this mess. Save the restaurant and find the killer . . . maybe Hollywood wasn’t that bad.

    Reading this book was a delightful way to spend my Saturday. It brought back memories of my mother’s restaurant and the one she worked at while I was growing up. The later was called “the greasy spoon” by everyone. It is always hard to keep businesses like this thriving especially today with so many options. I loved Laurel’s idea and loved that she started her ethic eats concept with Irish comfort foods.

    Laurel is smart and can cook virtually anything. She is given a recipe for Irish Stew and she takes it and runs with it. Her upbringing as a foster child gives her an interesting way to look at life and the relationships she makes. Laurel holds nothing back when she confronts her aunt about her deception about Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks and that she may not be sticking around. She is a tough cookie on the outside and in this first story in this series, just a little bit of the softer inside begins to show. There is a potential for a lot of character growth and I want to get to know her better and Sophia too.

    Laurel’s relationship with Declan, the hunky manager of The Irish Shop, is pretty complex. There is romantic tension, but she doesn’t trust him, and their arguments were very couple-ish. He also has a wonderful family that accepted Laurel immediately.

    The man who was murdered Jack Lancer—“the Lance of Justice” was a local reporter that appeared to be loved by everyone, until Laural started really digging into his life and the stories he featured. I really enjoyed this way this progressed throughout the book. There were so many surprises in addition to a few twists that kept my eyes riveted to the page.

    This series is off to a terrific start. Well-written, nicely plotted and characters I want to know better. I am looking forward to reading French Fried soon.

    Your Great Escapes Travel Agent

    You can find out about Kylie Logan and her books on her website here.


    Coming July 3, 2018

    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.

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

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

    Contest Will End March 16, 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.”

    Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge Reviews 2018 What's In A Name Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

    #Review / #Giveaway – Murder Borrowed, Murder Blue (A Wedding Planner Mystery) by Stephanie Blackmoore @KensingtonBooks #NetGalley


    Murder Borrowed, Murder Blue (A Wedding Planner Mystery)
    Cozy Mystery
    3rd in Series
    Setting – Pennsylvania
    Kensington (January 30, 2018)
    Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
    ISBN-13: 978-1496704825
    Kindle ASIN: B0725F8BYD

     

     

    A celebrity couple getting hitched on Valentine’s Day would be a big boost for Mallory Shepard’s wedding planning business, but someone’s got cold feet: a corpse . . .

    Actress Dakota Craig is set to tie the knot with her famous musician boyfriend at Mallory’s Pennsylvania B&B on the most romantic day of the year. Best of all, the whole thing will air on the reality TV show I Do. But the maid of honor has dropped out of the wedding party—by dropping dead.

    A lot of people insist the show must go on, so Mallory’s investigation keeps getting sidetracked by everything from a meddling mother to a foot of snow to a side project making arrangements for a high school Winter Ball. But if she doesn’t catch the noxious culprit, the bride might wind up with a funeral wreath instead of a bouquet . . .

    Recipes Included

    Dollycas’s Thoughts

    Mallory and Rachel have their hands’ full preparing for a celebrity wedding that will be airing on television and the Winter Ball for the local high school. The B&B is full of the crew from I Do, the show featuring actress Dakota Craig and her famous musician boyfriend, Beau Wright’s wedding set to take place on Valentine’s Day. One problem, the maid of honor is found dead right in the middle of the Winter Ball. The bride decides to go through with the ceremony but her mother, the show’s host and it’s producer all have demands Mallory doesn’t know if she can fulfill, especially because it seems the bride’s wishes are being ignored. And of course, there is a murder investigation that could put a halt to everyone’s plans.

    This is a fantastic twisted up mystery story.

    You may need a scorecard to keep track of all the players. Dakota Craig grew up and attended school in Port Quincy. Her school friend,  Ginger Crevecoeur is to be her maid of honor, Ellie Barnes, and her sister Leah the bridesmaids. Ginger is the headmistress of Dunlap Women’s Academy and Ellie is the drama teacher. They all attended the academy and Leah is a current student. Ellie and Leah’s mother, Iris, owns a nursery with several greenhouses and will be providing special flowers for the wedding events. Mallory’s almost mother-in-law Helene is on the academy board and she is the one who forced the Winter Ball into Mallory’s hands. Adrienne, the host of I Do, also happens to be Summer’s mother, ex of the man Mallory is dating. Adrienne left when Summer was a baby and they have just recently reconnected. Xavier, the show’s producer has a past linked to Roxanne, Dakota’s very overbearing mother, and the reason why the wedding is being broadcast. Xavier has also made Mallory and Rachel an offer that may be too good to pass up.

    While there are a lot of characters, the mystery is so worth the time to get everybody straight. It is very well written and plotted. Twists on top of twists kept me guessing from beginning to end. How Mallory kept her cool and keep things straight was just amazing to me. The murder takes place when the B&B is full of all the guests at the Winter Ball. Recent events have Mallory thinking she knows who the killer is, she just has to prove it and while doing so more suspects come to light. I escaped right into this book and had my own thoughts about the guilty party. I was so close, but I was wrong again.

    I enjoyed all the author’s descriptions are the people, their clothes and the places they went. She makes it so easy to picture everything clearly. Thistle Park B&B is much larger than I originally thought and sounds like under Mallory and Rachel’s care it has become an amazing place.

    This is a wonderful cozy series. I have loved every book and do recommend reading them in order for maximum enjoyment.

    I am excited about what is coming up with these characters. There is a teaser chapter for Gown With The Wind at the back of the book.

    Dollycas
    Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

    About The Author

    A native Pittsburgher, Stephanie Blackmoore now lives in Missouri, with her husband, son and two-spirited cats. She was an attorney in Pittsburgh and a librarian in Florida before becoming a writer. Stephanie is a fan of everything black-and-yellow. She is hard at work on her next Wedding Planner mystery. Connect with Stephanie at the links below.

    Social Media Links:  Website    Facebook    Twitter

    Kindle Copy of Murder Wears White is just $1.99 on Amazon.

    GIVEAWAY

    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.

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

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

    Contest Will End February 15, 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.”