Jun 132019
 

A Crafter Hooks a Killer:
A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

 

About the Book


A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Crooked Lane Books (June 11, 2019)
Hardcover 274 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643850121
ISBN-13: 978-1643850122
Digital ASIN: B07MGS1XDW

Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?

Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.

Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.

Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We are back in Heartsford, Wisconsin, and it’s summertime. Sammy Kane is planning for a big event at Community Craft. A book signing with Jane Johnson, The Queen of Crafts. Jane is also writing a new book that will include one chapter about Community Craft and its original owner, Sammy’s best friend, Kate Allen.

The author surprises Sammy by arriving in town early and requesting a private meeting with her. They agree to meet on a bench by the river. Sammy arrives a short time after Jane, but she is waaayyyy too late. The author is dead and holding her last book. The killer has scratched a deadly message too, “THE END” on the book.  Sammy knows the author wanted to talk to her about Kate and the store, but why would anyone kill her over that?

The death brings Sammy back together with Detective Liam Nash which seems to make them both very happy. But Liam tells her to let him handle the case.  There is no way Sammy can do that. This case has something to do with Kate and she can’t just back away. She quickly assembles the S.H.E. team (Sammy, her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie) to help her untangle the clues. Together they are going to chain the information together to find the killer and get to the truth they all seek.

___

I was so excited to get back to Heartsford. I really enjoy the part the community plays in Holly Quinn’s stories. This time when the murder ruins Sammy’s big plans, she starts to plan another event that will benefit the town.

The core characters in this series are strong and realistic. Sammy’s mother gets on my nerves a little bit but in ways reminds me of my own mother in certain ways. I was surprised that the relationship between Sammy and Liam didn’t progress at all, while Heidi and Officer Tim’s relationship is progressing nicely. Ellie is taking advantage of her parents being in town to get a little bit of “me time” while they babysit their grandson Tyler. Even if that “me time” means manning the store so Sammy can investigate. When Ellie can’t step in employee/crafter/friend Deborah takes over and keeps the shop running.  Of course, Sammy’s lovable golden retriever returns. That dog just steals my heart. Like my dogs, Bara is usually by Sammy’s side or very close by.

I really appreciate the way Ms. Quinn has laid out this mystery. She gives her protagonist a gift of “seeking and finding the truth” and gives us a detective that is man enough to know her information is important. He does his best to rein her in and keep her safe at the same time but Sammy is pretty headstrong. She may have her S.H.E. team to help, but she and Liam make a good team too.

The plot is full of twists, and I loved the way the author crocheted everything together but I did figure this one out before Sammy. Even with that, I was entertained reading and following along as all the clues fell into place right up to the exciting ending. Holding back saying more but Sammy rocked!

Fun characters, a great theme, not 1 but 2 mysteries all set in my neck of the woods. Books like this one are what first pulled me into the cozy mystery genre. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Read my review of A Crafter Knits A ClueHere

 

About Author Holly Quinn

Holly Quinn has published two stand-alone fiction novels in another persona. She graduated from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in business and a minor in marketing. This is her second Handcrafted mystery. Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com

Praise for A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

This one was a quick read for me – once I got started it was very hard to put down!
~The Book’s the Thing

A Crafter Hooks a Killer has three curious ladies, two complex crimes, one disgruntled detective and a delightful doggie.
~The Avid Reader

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

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Jun 122019
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am pleased to share the latest book in this long-running Wisconsin series!


Dead Big Dawg (A Loon Lake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
19th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (June 11, 2019)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 1440598835
ISBN-13: 978-1440598838
Kindle ASIN: B01MRACFUA

When the bodies of a wealthy Chicago industrialist and his wife are discovered in their summer home at the same time that a local lawyer disappears, life becomes complicated for Loon Lake Chief of Police Lew Ferris.

Relying on the forensic dental expertise of her close friend and acting coroner, Doc Osborne, Lew soon finds the investigations are even more complicated than she thought when a rarely used computer belonging to a local sawmill operation is taken over by foreign hackers. Add to that the family issues facing both Lew and Doc, and this Northwoods summer becomes both hot and dangerous.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Another trip north to Loon Lake and again Doc and Lew have their hands full. First,  with their grandchildren, especially when they disappear and are found a short time later at a neighboring farm. They also find agents from the FBI Cyber Security Team. Russian Hackers have worked their way into the Northwoods unbeknownst to the owners of the farm and the owners of an old computer they use for recordkeeping.

Then, in the middle of the night Chief of Police Lew Ferris is alerted to a double fatality. A businessman and his wife from Illinois in their summer home. At first, thought to be a murder/suicide, Lew doesn’t think so and calls in the “Wausau Boys” and Ray Pradt to work the scene. Together they all will try to figure out what really happened and why.

On the homefront, Doc’s daughter is home for a visit and she has brought along her new boyfriend and runs into a high school classmate.

Wisconsin is a place where many bigwigs from the Chicago area have their summer homes so it was not surprising that a couple from there are our victims this time. The question is was the killer from the area or did trouble follow them over the border.

___

The core characters in this series have become friends after 19 books. I love that the children and grandchildren again are part of the story. That being said, the author gives enough background info to read this or any of the books in this series on its own. The characters are well developed and genuine, some have the quirky traits fans of this genre look for. There are also plenty of suspects to keep readers guessing.

The later books in this series run about 200 pages and Victoria Houston packs them full. She tangles the main plot and subplots together with believable dialogue and wonderful descriptions of the area. What I love best is that the characters always have time to do a little fly-fishing. They find a certain amount of peace on the water and sometimes that is when a crucial clue falls into place.

The Loon Lake Mysteries are comfortable stories with the perfect amount of suspense and drama. Lew, Doc, and Ray are good people and true friends. Strong, smart, people who work and play well together. The romantic relationship between Doc and Lew is what I would call relaxed. They each know what they want and understand each other so well. The younger Ray is a very special guy, still playing the field and that usually works for him. Most people are amazed by the way women just seem to fall for him.  It does bring some great humor to each story.

I have enjoyed each story in this series. Dead Big Dawg was a quick read that was fun and entertaining. I  look forward to my next trip north.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.



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

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May 312019
 


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.


Dead Firefly (A Loon Lake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (June 19, 2018)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 1440598878
ISBN-13: 978-1440598876
Kindle ASIN: B01N6V9K81

“My wife and Gordon Maxwell tried to kill me this morning.”

Doc Osborne is startled by the unexpected words tumbling out of the mouth of his friend and fellow AA member Chuck Pelletier, the recently remarried lead accountant for a planned luxury fly-fishing lodge preserve under construction in the area.

Alarmed, Doc tries to alert Police Chief Lew Ferris, but she is tied up with law enforcement teams across the state. They’re searching for thieves who have been cutting down and stealing hundreds of thousands of precious birch trees from public and private property across northern Wisconsin.

But it’s too late. Pelletier is found dead not two hours later. Doc is shocked, saddened, and determined to get to the bottom of the murder.

With one man dead, evidence of lakeshore properties being stolen from elderly owners, and an attempted sexual assault, short-handed Chief Ferris deputizes Doc and his skilled tracker neighbor to help with the investigation. Then, just as they seem to be getting somewhere, things grow even more complicated.

Just another summer in Loon Lake.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

“My wife and Gordon Maxwell tried to kill me this morning.” 

That line got Doc Osborne’s attention but before he can do anything his friend Chuck Pelletier is dead, probably killed by his new wife and his boss Gordon Maxwell. Doc is now going to work closely with his girlfriend, Police Chief Lew Ferris to bring the killer to justice.

Add to that, thousands of acres of birch trees are being decimated on public and private lands and Lew finds out elderly riverfront property owners are being forced to sell for pennies on the dollar. She and Doc hardly have time to do even a little fishing.

___________

Time to travel a few hours north for another visit to Loon Lake. I always enjoy catching up with Doc, Lew, Ray, and the Wausau crew.

This time Doc is personally involved and feeling guilty for letting a man he met through AA down. They had three things in common, AA, fishing and losing their wives. I had to laugh when a new investigator expected Doc to be recused from the case because he knew the victim. Heck, everyone knows everyone in Loon Lake, which Lew quickly pointed out. That is what I love about these stories. The author gives us a true picture of the way things work in a small town.

Ms. Houston’s characters are like old friends. Doc and Lew are comfortable in their relationship, Ray Pradt, tracker and water tour guide extraordinaire brings the comic relief for topics that could get a little heavy. Together they make an excellent team to solve a case and get justice. They also spend their free time together, much of it spent in a lake in their waders with a fishing rod in their hands.

This time the mystery was more in proving something Doc already knew. You can’t arrest and indict without evidence and he was one determined man. All of Lew’s investigations twisted together and with his help, they were able to wrap everything up to my satisfaction.

At just over 200 pages, this story was a quick read and very entertaining. I love that they take place not far from where I live and can attest that the author describes the locale perfectly. References to real places are always fun.

I don’t fish anymore but these little trips always bring my grandfather to mind. As a youngster, I spent a lot of time with him out in his boat on the lake. He trying to teach me the fine art of fishing while I just loved spending time with him. When he passed away there was no one left in my life that fished so that part of my life faded away but left me with some fine memories. Doc reminds me a little bit of my grandfather.

Somewhere along the line, I got a little behind on this series, but now I am caught up and ready for Dead Big Dawg that will be released June 11. 

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.



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

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Apr 192019
 


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.


Lucky Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (March 5, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-10: 9780758272751
ISBN-13: 978-0758272751
Kindle ASIN: B009L93H7Y

It’s Christmas Day in the sleepy town of Sorenson, Wisconsin, but instead of unwrapping presents, deputy coroner Mattie Winston is at the burnt remains of a house, where a charred body has been found. The victim is none other than Jack Allen–a paraplegic who recently won a huge casino jackpot. Upon closer inspection, Mattie and detective Steve Hurley are convinced Jack was murdered to steal his winnings, giving the phrase Black Jack a whole new meaning. . .

But as Mattie investigates, even her cutting-edge forensic skills keep coming up short in a case with as many suspects as twists. After her odds-on-favorite turns up dead, Mattie and Hurley must race to find a killer before another victim cashes in his chips.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston catches a case on Christmas Day. Firemen called to a fire have found a body among the ashes. They are able to identify the man as Jack Allen, a paraplegic who was said to keep the fortune he recently won at the nearby casino in his home. Evidence shows the fire was deliberately set and not an accident as the killer had hoped. They also find Allen’s hiding spot empty. Working with detective Steve Hurley Mattie chases down clues while trying to ignore the romantic electricity that is running between them. They are also drawn into another case involving a missing man that was found floating in the river. Again, the evidence shows foul play.

I loved the first 3 books in this series for many reasons.

  1. It is set in my home state of Wisconsin.
  2. The text is full of Wisconsin references and the dialogue sounds just like the way I talk.
  3. The story is usually well-written and plotted.
  4. The humor flows from beginning to end.

But the thing I liked the best was protagonist Mattie Winston. She is a curvy woman, 6 feet tall, with size 12 feet, and she never fails to find herself the butt of a joke of her own making. This time mud and fire ants lead to two of her misadventures. The woman and the situations she gets herself into are flat out hilarious.

But this time she does some really stupid things that almost had me throwing the book at the wall and not finishing it. I also wish she stood up for herself better with her ex. She is a smart woman but when David is around she turns to mush. He cheated on her! He is the one who got at work with his pants down literally! Yet, she just lets him get away with everything. It is a good thing I was wrapped up in the main mystery and needed to know who killed a man in a wheelchair or this would have been a DNF.

Like Jack Allen, I deal with paralysis, I am a hemiplegic where my right side is mostly paralyzed while he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. I identified with this character and was sad he was the victim. It really got my dander up that someone took advantage of him and then killed him all out of greed. So I was totally focused on his killer being brought to justice. There is a long list of probable suspects and I was “in the right church, wrong pew, with my thinking when it came down to nailing the killer.

The second case was easier for me to solve and really broke my heart. It hit a little close to home for me and sadly was a sign of our time.

There was also a trip to Florida for a forensic convention during the holidays, that really made no sense and could have been completely left out.

The romantic issues were like a roller coaster ride and I was excited about it until the first curveball hit, but it was the final pitch that again had me wanting to throw the book at the wall and because the mysteries were solved I DID!

So, No! this was not a Perfect Escape but it wasn’t A Dreadful Detour either. There were things I really enjoyed about the story but there many I didn’t.  I really want to know what happens next with these characters. So after a little break, I will venture into book 5, Board Stiff in hopes this book just had a couple of missteps.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real-life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series, she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit www.mattiewinston.com


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*This was from my personal collection.

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Feb 082019
 

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.

Technically, this book was released last year but it was not screaming at me from my TBR shelf. It was screaming at me from Amazon and then my email inbox. The author had sent me a copy for review and I couldn’t get it to load on my Kindle. We recently straightened that out and I wanted to read/review it asap so I scheduled it for today.  😉


A Stew to a Kill (A Callie’s Kitchen Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Independently published (October 11, 2018)
Paperback: 267 pages
ISBN-10: 1724191233
ISBN-13: 978-1724191236
Kindle ASIN: B07H74PRZX

The Halloween season is serving up more tricks than treats for thirty-something Greek-American foodie and business owner Calliope “Callie” Costas.

When a new employee at a neighboring business, Tea for Two, is found dead, Callie is drawn into a murky brew of motives and murder suspects. It turns out that the seemingly mild-mannered victim might have a few skeletons in his closet. What’s more, the timing of the murder, just a day before Crystal Bay’s first annual Halloween Walk, has threatened to derail the town’s festive fall events, including a Halloween Gala benefiting the local food pantry, one of Callie’s favorite causes.

Callie’s already full plate is set to overflowing with the return of an old boyfriend who has his eye on developing a mall that will compete with and possibly destroy Crystal Bay’s small business scene. Could there be a tie between the mall and the murder?

Somebody has been stewing. Will Callie help find the unsavory killer before things reach the boiling point?

Includes delicious recipes from Callie’s Kitchen!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Plans are underway for Crystal Bay’s first Halloween Walk. All sorts of fun activities are planned and they will wrap up with a huge gala all to support the local food pantry. The shop owners are excited to participate and have placed unique skeletons in their businesses for a #selfie challenge for prizes to bring more customers in. Callie has her hands full with Callie’s Kitchen, but she is also helping with the gala. Having an ex-boyfriend show up touting the idea of a shopping mall on the outskirts of town is the last thing she needed. But the entire town is thrown for a loop when Henry, who works at Tea for Two across the street is murdered. The tragic death is sure to dampen the festivities especially when the police start looking at the shop owners as suspects. With Sands out of the country, Callie tries to stay out of the investigation but again finds herself right in the middle of another murder case.

This is another delightful cozy mystery from Jenny Kales.

Callie is on her own this time. Detective Sands is away, Sam is buried in work, Hugh and Raine are expecting a baby. Her father steps in to help with 11-year-old Olivia when needed, but he and his lady friend seem to be getting serious. The wonderful thing about these characters is that they are relatable and believable. The Greek heritage shines within the pages. I love the relationship Callie has with her dad and how she has taken what he started and ran with it.

The mystery was intriguing. Henry was a quiet man and no one knew much about his past. Callie’s ex Ben is in town pushing hard for a new mall that scares all the business owners. Can the murder and the mall be connected? When another person is attacked more questions arise? The officer in charge of the case has not impressed Callie or the other merchants. I understood Callie’s need to keep asking questions and was really surprised when the real culprit was revealed. Ms. Kales really twisted my thinking with some great red herrings.

Of course, I love the Wisconsin setting, and it is truly portrayed. All the nuances and places felt like home. The author really brings out the small town life of Crystal Bay.

The bonus is the authentic Greek recipes at the end of the story. My mouth was watering throughout the whole book. The stews, the cookies, everything made in Callie’s Kitchen sounded good to me.

A terrific addition to this series!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Sign up for a FREE author newsletter filled with author news like upcoming releases and author events, exclusive recipes, giveaways, price events, author interviews and more: http://tinyurl.com/huv5pof

Jenny Kales is the author of The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, featuring Greek-American Calliope Costas, feisty food business owner and amateur sleuth, who lives in a scenic Wisconsin town with colorful characters — and a high murder rate! Each book contains several delicious recipes, both Greek and American.

ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK is the debut book in the series, followed by SPICED AND ICED (A Christmas cozy mystery), SECRETS AND PIES, and a NEW BOXED SET. The Callie’s Kitchen Cozy Mystery Series Boxed Set, which includes Books 1 – 3, is now available and free to read on Kindle Unlimited!

LATEST RELEASE: A STEW TO A KILL, Book 4 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series! This Halloween mystery is available for the Kindle and in paperback.

Jenny is an avid reader, cook, and baker and she’s addicted to reading and mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or Acorn TV. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier. She’s hard at work on additional writing projects including more Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries and a new series.

I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of A Stew to a Kill!
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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.”

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Dec 062018
 


How to Knit a Murder (Seaside Knitters Society)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series (with this publisher)
Setting – Massachusetts
Kensington (November 27, 2018)
Hardcover: 272 pages
ISBN-10: 149671105X
ISBN-13: 978-1496711052
Kindle ASIN: B07B74TCK6

A mysterious woman arrives in picturesque Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, and the Seaside Knitters welcome her into their cozy world of intricate patterns and colorful skeins. Unfortunately, nothing frays a warm introduction like cold-blooded murder . . .

With her shy manner and baggy jeans, Rose Chopra becomes an unlikely superhero the night she stumbles into Izzy Perry’s shop and inadvertently saves a shipment of yarn from water damage. When the Seaside Knitters help the enigmatic handywoman settle into town and find work at a popular real estate company, Rose proves she can fix just about anything—until a potential homebuyer is killed and she becomes entangled in murder . . .

The moment controversial entrepreneur Spencer Paxton is found dead in a pricey ocean-side house, accusations fly at the last person on the property—Rose. But the Seaside Knitters have their doubts. After all, Spencer’s political aspirations as well as his company’s plans to pave over Sea Harbor’s historic art district with luxury apartments earned him some very real enemies . . .

Now, Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and Cass must swap knitting for sleuthing as they struggle to move the needle on a twisted homicide case causing turmoil across town. As tensions build in the sleepy New England community and Rose’s secret past unravels, the ladies face an unsettling realization—true victims aren’t always the ones buried six feet under . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Back in Sea Harbor amongst some of my favorite cozy ladies was exactly where I needed to be the night I started reading this book. A stranger comes into Izzy’s shop and solves a huge problem and almost immediately Rose Chopra is moving into to the apartment above the shop, has a job she loves and friends that care about her. But Rose has a secret, a secret that has to come out, especially after Spencer Paxton is murdered and Rose appears to be the last person to see him alive. The man had made plenty of enemies in the seaside town. Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and Cass decide it is time to knit together some clues to solve the murder and try to protect their new friend whose life will never be the same.

I do love this series. It is very character driven. The core group of characters is close and heavily involved in each other’s lives every day, so when a pesky murder pops up they are all in. The ladies and their significant others band together to solve the case but also comfort the victim’s family and the person wrongly accused. It is like a big warm blanket that surrounds them that always includes food, shoulders to lean on and ears ready to listen. Rose and Stella blend into this group nicely and benefit from the big blanket of comfort.

I didn’t like the victim from the moment he was introduced. A snide man, greedy and feeling entitled, pushed all my beware buttons. If I lived in Sea Harbor I would have been on the suspect list.

The author takes on the big hot topic of bullying. A big topic in life and schools today but bullying has always been around. We see how it changed the life, the long-lasting effect, it has on a victim.

The mystery she has laid out is very well done. I did catch a key clue very early on that explained the how, but the who and the why took me quite a bit longer. Twists unraveling, turns to misdirect, knit the clues together, purl to see them in a different way. Following along with the characters as a pattern emerges to get us on the right path. This was such a fun mystery to read.

Sea Harbor is a wonderful place no matter the time of year. The mansion where the murder takes place wouldn’t be somewhere I would want to live but it sure has all the bells and whistles. At the end of the story, it does find the perfect owner.

This is another fantastic story from Sally Goldenbaum. She gives plenty of detail for the story to stand on its own. I have been blessed to read the story of the Seaside Knitters from the beginning and highly recommend them all.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of Murder Wears Mittens here

About The Author

Sally Goldenbaum was born on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Manitowoc, WI, to a homemaker mother and a ship-building father. Although she now lives in landlocked Prairie Village, KS, her longing for lakes and the sea is satisfied in part by writing the USA Today bestselling Seaside Knitters Mystery series, set on Cape Ann, MA. She is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl. Murder Wears Mittens is the first book in the Seaside Knitters Society series. How to Knit a Murder was just released. A continuation of the Seaside Knitters Mystery Series.

Follow Sally

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

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#FlashbackFriday – Mischief in Moonstone Series: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone by Christine DeSmet #Review / #Giveaway

 2018 Reviews, E-Book Challenge, Giveaways, TBR Pile Challenge, Wisconsin Author, Wisconsin Setting  Comments Off on #FlashbackFriday – Mischief in Moonstone Series: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone by Christine DeSmet #Review / #Giveaway
Nov 302018
 

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.

Mischief in Moonstone Series, Novella 2: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone
Romance Novella
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Writers Exchange E-Publishing (March 14, 2017)
Print Length: 93 pages
Kindle ASIN: B06XNPQLJ3

This delightful series focuses on the humorous mystery and romantic adventures of the kind folks who live in the environs of a small village nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Along the way in the series, silkie chickens, a giant prehistoric beaver skeleton, a kidnapped reindeer, and other flora and fauna contribute to the amusing mischief and mayhem.

When the men of Moonstone suddenly seem to be off fishing a lot in the evenings, thus cutting down on her new restaurant’s business, chef Kirsten Peplinski becomes suspicious. She discovers a topless touring boat has set up business in Lake Superior, just outside the jurisdiction of Moonstone. She sets out to give a “dressing down” to the boat’s owner, but Jonathon VanBrocklin kidnaps her, having “undressing” and marrying her on his mind.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Our last visit to Moonstone was at Christmastime, this time a floating topless touring boat creates havoc as all the male residents have “gone fishing” several days in a row. The female population had no idea what they were really up to until they promoted Kirsten Peplinski to temporary mayor and send her out to see what exactly “is biting”. What she finds is Jonathon VanBrocklin and he just may be too hot to handle.

This was a fun mini escape on a Sunday afternoon. The characters were engaging and funny. The romance sizzled at just the right temperature. Again, as with the first novella of this series, When Rudolph was Kidnapped, this story has a Lifetime or Hallmark movie feel. Being set in my home state of Wisconsin was just the thing to hook me from beginning to end. 

I enjoyed Christine DeSmet’s cozy mysteries as well.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Christine DeSmet author picAbout The Author
Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She’s also an award-winning scriptwriter and teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies where she directs the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. You can find her on Facebook or at her website, www.ChristineDeSmet.com.

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*Book was purchased from Amazon for my private collection.

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Nov 152018
 

A Vintage Death (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)
by Mary Ellen Hughes

About the Book


A Vintage Death (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Maryland
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2018)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 0738752274
ISBN-13: 978-0738752273
Digital
ASIN: B0795RTP2B

As the new music box store owner and resident of Keepsake Cove, a quaint town full of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Callie Reed is eager to get more involved in her community. She volunteers to plan the Fall street decorations and welcome a visiting author who’s come for a special book signing. But the celebratory mood is cut short when the local B&B owner is found dead, killed by a pair of vintage scissors.

Suspicion is cast on the victim’s estranged wife, Dorothy, who owns Keepsake Cove’s vintage sewing shop. Callie is sure Dorothy is innocent, and the visiting author agrees. Together, they begin their own investigation, only to discover that many people in Keepsake Cove have secrets. Secrets that are worth killing to keep quiet.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am so happy to return to Keepsake Cove and just in time for a big event too. Callie is starting to feel at home and is getting involved. She has volunteered to head up the committee decorating the town for Fall and helping with a big book signing for author Lyssa Hammond. Lyssa and Callie become fast friends after Callie delivers a welcome basket to the B&B where the author is staying. She also meets the owner of the B&B, Clifford Ashby. He is a strange individual who makes both Callie and Lyssa uncomfortable so Lyssa is happy to spend time away from the place with Callie. They can both understand why he and his wife, Dorothy, are living apart.

But when the creepy man is found dead the focus turns directly to his wife. She owns the vintage sewing shop and the murder weapon was a pair of vintage sheers.  Callie knows Dorothy couldn’t kill anyone and decides to prove it. Lyssa is by her side as they start to uncover secrets that may have sealed Clifford’s fate. When another person is killed, the choice of weapon connects the cases and also proves even more clearly Dorothy is not the murderer. Now they just need to find the real killer and get them to sing a melody that lands them in the slammer.

Keepsake Cove is my kind of place, a collector shopper’s dream come true. Ms. Hughes brings the place to life with her words. All the unique shops, the town square, the music boxes that fill the shelves of Callie’s shop and more. The set up for the author signing was fun and Halloween themed right down to the author’s arrival. I loved it!

The characters were already well developed in the first book, A Fatal Collection, but they continue to grow and evolve through this story. I really like Tabitha, Callie’s assistant at the shop. Each day is a surprise because the way she dresses always has a theme. She and Callie work so well together, but the woman is more than capable at running the place while Callie is off solving crimes. I also enjoy that her new relationship with cafe owner Brian Greer is moving at a slow comfortable pace. There is also a special character that is quiet most of the time, a little supernatural element, a beloved music box that only plays to help Callie stay on track.

Secrets are the keys to this mystery and the author draws readers in with an expert hand. She opens the door to a much longer suspect list than I had imagined and she twists things up in a way that I was just following along without doing my normal thing of trying to solve the mystery before the protagonist. The ending was suspenseful and surprised me. I really enjoyed the way this story was written and played out. I would have finished the book all in one sitting but my eyes just would not cooperate.

Another wonderful read from this author for this series. I truly can’t wait for the next installment, my fingers and toes are crossed hoping for another visit to Keepsake Cove.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of Book 1, A Fatal Collection here.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories. Visit her at www.MaryEllenHughes.com.

Author Links – Facebook – Pinterest – Twitter  GoodReads

Purchase Links 

As the new music box store owner and resident of Keepsake Cove, a quaint town full of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Callie Reed is eager to get more involved in her community.Amazon    B&N  Midnight Ink

Also by Mary Ellen Hughes



Praise for A Vintage Death (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)
by Mary Ellen Hughes

A Vintage death a pleasing cozy mystery that with its quaint town, charming shops and friendly characters.
~The Avid Reader

The mix of town life, the shops, and murder flows smoothly making for an enjoyable story with a touch of charm. Great for fans of cozies.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Like knotted thread, unraveling the true truth wasn’t an easy task. But author Hughes expertly ties everything together in a reveal that had me riveted to my seat . . . I give A VINTAGE DEATH 5 out of 5 stars. Heck, I give it 10 out of 5 stars!
~Lisa Ks Book Reviews

History, deceit and betrayal all are behind the scenes as Callie attempts to solve one murder while trying to become more involved in community activities. A second murder is so not what this town needs!
~Laura’s Interests

A Vintage Death was a delightfully entertaining mystery and I wanted to visit Callie’s shop so I could pick out my own music box. Callie is a fun, smart heroine and I absolutely loved her amazing personality.
~Moonlight Rendezvous

The mystery had a lot of characters – and potential suspects. I am an avid mystery reader but did not solve this one before Callie did! I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot.
~View from the Birdhouse

The descriptive writing of the author pulled me into the story from the very beginning and pulled me along for a great read.
~MJB Reviewers

If you’d like to relax with a heartwarming traditional cozy mystery, A Vintage Death is a great choice. It has that perfect blend of enchanting setting, characters that you enjoy spending time with, and a well-crafted mystery.
~The Power of Words

Even in a delightful and scenic location like Keepsake Cove, Maryland, human greed, cupidity, and anger still flourish.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

A fun and cozy read that will draw you in making you wish you were there.
~My Reading Journeys

This book is such a great add on to the series.
~Community Bookstop

These characters are strongly visualized and each unique. As I’ve always found with a cozy mystery, the well-plotted storyline engages the reader with red herrings and plot twists.
~Rosepoint Publishing

 

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS
November 7 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
November 7 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
November 7 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
November 8 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST
November 8 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, Sissy, & Too!  – SPOTLIGHT
November 8 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
November 9 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 9 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
November 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
November 9 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
November 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 10 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 10 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
November 10 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 11 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
November 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 11 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT*
November 12 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
November 12 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
November 12 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
November 13 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 13 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
November 13 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW
November 14 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
November 14 – Jane Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 14 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
November 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
November 15 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
November 15 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
November 16 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
November 16 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
November 16 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

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

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Oct 162018
 

A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

 

About the Book

A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted Mystery
NEW COZY MYSTERY SERIES
Setting – Wisconsin
Crooked Lane Books (October 9, 2018)
Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1683317718
ISBN-13: 978-1683317715
Digital ASIN: B078LZ5ZM5

For fans of Betty Hechtman and Maggie Sefton, the latest craft frenzy is Holly Quinn’s Handcrafted series debut.

Sammy Kane just moved back to her hometown to run a craft store. But when the owner of a nearby yarn shop is murdered, Sammy will needle little help finding the killer.

When a heartbroken Samantha “Sammy” Kane returns to her hometown of Heartsford, WI, for her best friend Kate’s funeral, she learns that Kate’s much-loved craft store is in danger of perishing with its owner. Confounding all her expectations of the life she would live, Sammy moves back home with her golden retriever and takes over Community Craft. A few doors down Main Street, fellow new arrival Ingrid Wilson has just opened the Yarn Barn, a real “purl” of a shop. But when Sammy strolls over to see if Ingrid could use a little help, she finds Ingrid’s dead body—with a green aluminum knitting needle lodged in her throat.

Detective Liam Nash is thrown for a loop as every single citizen of Heartsford seems to have a theory about Ingrid’s murder. And nearly everyone in town seems to be a suspect. But the last time Sammy did any sleuthing was as a little moppet. And this is not fun and games. Sammy is eager to help the handsome Liam—who seems to be endlessly inventive in finding reasons to talk with her—and when Liam arrests affable woodworker Miles Danbury, Sammy puts everything on the line to help clear Miles.

As the case comes dangerously close to unraveling, Sammy must stitch the clues together. But the killer has other plans—and if Sammy’s not careful, she may wind up in a perilous knot in A Crafter Knits a Clue, the first warm and woolly yarn of Holly Quinn’s new Handcrafted mysteries.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Knit one, purl MURDER!

Sammy Kane has returned to Heartsford for her best friend Kate’s funeral and when she hears the craft store will close without a new owner Sammy decides to stay and take over the store. Community Craft has become a gathering place for the crafters in the area and also allows them to sell their creations.

There is also another new shop owner in town. Ingrid Wilson has opened a store selling the most beautiful barn. While Sammy is happy to have The Yarn Barn in town, the owner is always needing help in one way or another. She has no problem calling Sammy’s employee, Kate’s little brother, with tasks she says she just handle. Carter and Sammy are trying to get Community Craft ready for the annual Spring Fling when Ingrid calls Carter for help. Sammy tells Carter to keep doing what he is doing while she handles a couple of things and then she will go over to help Ingrid. When she arrives, she finds yarn shop order dead on the floor, a knitting needle the killer’s weapon of choice.

Heartsford also has a new police detective. Sammy meets Liam Nash when he arrives on the scene. He learns right away about a tragedy in a small town – Everyone has an opinion and are not afraid to point fingers at any other resident they think committed the crime. Sammy has a little experience as a sleuth herself. S.H.E. was detective club of Sammy, her sister Elle, and their cousin Heidi had in their childhood. Like Nancy Drew, they solved several “crimes”. The group reunites when they think Detective Liam Nash is not solving Ingrid’s murder fast enough. They realize it’s not as easy as they thought especially when Sammy is threatened physically to back off.

****

Heartsford, if it was an actual town would be a short drive from where I live in Wisconsin. I know the author lives nearby too because she has captured Springtime in Wisconsin perfectly. It is one of the places you can experience all four seasons in one day. Mother Nature is very fickle in the Spring. It can be snowing in the morning, the sun comes out in the early afternoon with rising temps, then later the wind picks up and by night she will throw a good old fashioned thunderstorm at us. Heck, there are days when it rains in the front yard while the sun is shining brightly in the backyard.  😎

Holly Quinn has inhabited Heartsford with fantastic residents too! So many crafters. I liked that in addition to the shops in town we see how important the school is to this community. School events play a huge part to the people in Heartsford and Wisconsin in general. Carter is on the basketball team and Big Ten scouts are at the game watching him and other players with scholarships hopes. The Spring Fling is more than just a shopping event, there is a parade that reminded me of the usual homecoming parade but for the winter sports. It was heartwarming that the town came together to support its own even with a murderer on the loose.

The investigation had many facets. Sammy is a very observant person but so is the good detective. He found several ways to come in contact with Sammy, even sharing some unknown details while she filled him on things she had uncovered. Of course, he wants her to leave everything to him, but that was never going to happen. It was fun to follow along with S.H.E. and watching Sammy spar with Liam.

This book follows what almost all first books in series’ do. It’s pace, in the beginning, is a little slow because the author has to introduce all the characters, their relationships and where they fit into the landscape of the town.  The pace picks up nicely in the second half as clues start to fall into place and suspects are honed in on or eliminated. The murder mystery was wrapped up nicely at the end but there is a cliffhanger leading to the next story. Love that!

This series is off to a splendid start. The story has a real hometown feel with characters I want to get to know better. I love that Sammy’s golden retriever is welcome and spends days with her at the store. The community was realistic. The mystery was well-plotted and executed. As a former crafter, I love the theme. All my cozy boxes were checked. I am excited about the next installment.

*There are two sock patterns too after the story.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Holly Quinn is both an avid reader and crafter. Holly sells her artistic creations locally and dreamed of one day opening a gift shop to sell local artist’s handiwork. Instead, she began writing about it and thus her journey of the Handcrafted Mystery series was born. Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com

Author Links – Website – Facebook GoodReads 

Praise for A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

Great start to this new crafty cozy mystery series.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

A Crafter Knits a Clue is an engaging cozy mystery . . . I liked the author’s writing style (conversational) which made the story easy to read especially with its steady pacing.
~The Avid Reader

Holly Quinn knits together a cozy town, relatable characters, romantic tension, and a well-plotted mystery in the debut Handcrafted Mystery novel – A Crafter Knits a Clue.
~Reading Is My SuperPower

I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and fits the bill of a traditional cozy mystery. It is full of small-town humor and charm.
~A Cozy Experience

I think the thing I liked best about this book is the caring relationships that Sammy has with so many family and friends. You can tell that the core characters love each other and enjoy spending time with each other.
~MJB Reviewers

Purchase Links
Amazon          B&N       IndieBound          BAM      Powell’s       Walmart      BookBub

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS
October 8 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 8 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
October 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
October 9 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 10 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
October 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
October 11 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
October 11 – A Cozy ExperienceREVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 12 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW
October 12 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
October 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – RECIPE POST
October 13 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 13 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
October 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 14 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 15 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
October 15 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
October 16 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 17 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
October 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 17 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 18 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 18 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 18 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
October 19 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
October 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
October 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST
October 20 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 21 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
October 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW


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

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Oct 102018
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am always thrilled to have Kathleen Ernst drop by for a visit.

Immigrant Stories
by Kathleen Ernst

People sometimes ask why I so often write about 19th-century immigrants.  My fascination began in the 1980s when I worked at an outdoor ethnic museum called Old World Wisconsin. The museum features over 50 historic structures which have been moved to the site and restored.  Working as an interpreter and curator there provided tantalizing glimpses into the lives of some of the state’s first Yankee and European immigrants.

An even stronger motivation is simply my ever-growing admiration for the everyday people who made the monumental decision to leave everything familiar and gamble on a new life in Wisconsin.  I created the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries to give myself the opportunity to share some of what I’ve discovered.  Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin, and as the series progresses, she visits other special historic sites and museums.  Different books have featured different ethnic groups.

In the ninth book, The Lacemaker’s Secret, Chloe travels to northeast Wisconsin. She’s been hired to create a furnishings plan for a Belgian-American farm being restored at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay.  She’s on the hunt for insight into the lives of Belgian immigrants (and after discovering a body in an old brick bake oven, she’s soon on the hunt for a killer as well).

I knew little about the Belgians’ experience before beginning research for this book.  The immigrants, most of whom arrived in the 1850s, faced a brutal struggle to turn old-growth forest into farmland.  A devastating cholera epidemic swept through the settlements.  And in 1871, what is remembered locally as The Great Fire (which burned simultaneously with the Peshtigo Fire across the bay) blazed through many of the Belgian communities.  Over two hundred people died; over five thousand lost everything they owned.

But the Belgian immigrants’ story is not defined by tragedy.  It’s defined by strength and persistence, by faith and courage.  Today many of their descendants still live in northeast Wisconsin because their ancestors did not give up or give in.  I find that inspiring.

So does Chloe Ellefson in The Lacemaker’s Secret.  I hope that readers do as well.

~Kathleen

Thank you, Kathleen, for being my guest today! 

Now let me give you my thoughts on The Lace Maker’s Secret.

The Lace Maker’s Secret (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin/Belguim
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2018)
Paperback: 408 pages
ISBN-10: 0738753548
ISBN-13: 978-0738753546
Kindle ASIN: B0795R5H4C

Greed, Uncertainty, and Death Get Tangled in the Mystery of a Rare Piece of Belgian Lace

Curator Chloe Ellefson needs distraction from the unsettling family secret she’s just learned. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend, Roelke McKenna, has been troubled for weeks and won’t say why. Chloe hopes a consulting job at Green Bay’s Heritage Hill Historical Park, where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored, will be a relaxing escape.

Instead she discovers a body in a century-old bake oven.

Chloe’s research suggests that a rare and valuable piece of lace made its way to nearby Door County, Wisconsin, with the earliest Belgian settlers. More importantly, someone is desperate to find it. Inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the Great Fire, Chloe must untangle clues to reveal secrets old and new . . . before the killer strikes again.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This installment of this wonderful series takes Chloe Ellefson on the road to Green Bay’s Heritage Hill Historical Park. They are restoring a historic Belgian-American farmhouse and have asked her to consult on its furnishings. She recently learned some upsetting news about her family and something is definitely bothering her boyfriend. Roelke McKenna, so maybe a week away, doing the thing she loves will do them both some good. She is meeting a woman there who she has worked with in the past. The woman is a lace expert and she has been told a valuable piece of lace is part of Heritage Hill’s collection. Both women are excited to learn about the lace and its origins.

It is winter in Wisconsin and driving north Chloe encounters some slippery conditions. Just before she reaches the B&B where she will be staying she notices a summer kitchen building right off the road.  She pulls over quickly to check the place out, but she makes a grisly discovery. A dead body has been stuffed into the old bake oven. This is not the way she planned to start her week. The death has nothing to do with her. Maybe she can leave everything to the police and just do what she came to Green Bay to do. But she knows that is not going to happen, she is going to find herself right in the middle of another investigation and her favorite police officer is many miles away.

I know when I pick up a book by Kathleen Ernst I am in for a delightful read. This book was no exception. I have spent my whole life in Wisconsin and every time I read a book by this wonderful author I still learn something new. I knew the basics of the historical events that take place in this story but her fictional telling of the time period resonates and makes the time, place, and people come alive.

The historical part of the story begins in Belguim in 1848 when 12-year-old Seraphine Moreau’s father dies and she and her twin sister, Octavie are taken by their uncle to a convent school in Bruges.  She leaves her friend Jean-Paul Lejeune behind but he doesn’t forget her, he visits her and the convent often and they pledge their love to each other. While at the convent both Seraphine and Octavie learn to make the beautiful bobbin Belgian lace. In 1854, Jean-Paul returns to ask Seraphine to be his wife and travel with him to America where there are new opportunities for farmers. The story then follows their lives in Wisconsin and joins together with the current story which is set in the 1980’s.

Again, Ernst really shows her storytelling chops by marrying these two time periods together seamlessly. Both time periods feature strong women in Chloe and Seraphine and even Octavie who remains in Belguim. We see through the letters to her sister what is happening across the Atlantic. Seraphine and the immigrants struggle to just survive at times was both heartbreaking and inspirational, the perseverance shown throughout their lives was remarkable. Chloe shows her strength time and time again and she strives the find the truth even while putting herself in danger.

In Chloe’s timeframe, I always need to remind myself, 1980’s, no cell phones, no easy access to the internet, no text messages. I love the nightly phone calls between Chloe and Roelke, the calling collect, and reversing the charges. Something the current generation of kids and young adults will never know. For them, both parts of this story would be historical. I know Ms. Ernst’s books would be a great way for them to learn about history. She makes it personal and her stories stick with her readers. Her stories are well-researched but fictional so she does juggle the dates sometimes to fit her narrative while still giving an accurate picture of the things her characters endure.

I do love that the stories in this series take place in actual destinations near where I live. As my grandchildren get older these are places I would love to take them. According to their website, “Heritage Hill has earned a reputation as a jewel of the Midwest for guests from within the area and those visiting the community.” I really thank the author for bringing this treasure to my attention.

The Lacemaker’s Secret is a fantastic story filled with characters that are truly believable. They will draw readers deep into their lives. The theme of Belgian lace and the setting in Wisconsin really shows the author’s love of the history of our state. This was an amazing read!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

The last book in this series also received a Paradise Rating.
Check out my review of Mining for Justice here.

About the Author

Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.
Webpage Facebook – Blog 

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

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