Posted in Literary Escapes Reviews 2012 Wisconsin Author

One Hundred And One Nights by Benjamin Buchholz

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
Back Bay Books/Little Brown & Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now

After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla’s stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city’s rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments–his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant–reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I originally found out about this author and this book from an article in a local newspaper. The author is from a town about 25 miles from me and when I read the synopsis above of the story I knew I just had to get a copy.

Abu Saheeh has a routine to each day and Layla interrupts that routine. As the story continues we get a better understanding of the routine and the pressures he is facing. Trying to rebuild his life and forgetting about his past is no easy task.

The story starts out slowly and builds and builds with several unexpected twists. Through the use of flashbacks we learn not only about Abu Saheeh but about the people of Iraq and the way the country has changed. How the past effects the present and the future. The metamorphosis that has taken place due to the ravages of war. Things you can never understand without being there physically, but Buchholz does his best to take us there with his talent of brilliant storytelling. The blowing sand fills every crack and crevice, the convoys of Humvees and transport trucks is unending, the devastation is right before your eyes as you walk through the marketplace. You will be deeply affected by this story. It is heart wrenching and is truly unforgettable.

Benjamin Buchholz is an amazing writer to bring this story to fruition just from his experience during his one-year deployment in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard and his continuing studies. His insights into these situations are astounding. He brings Abu Saheeh and Layla to life in an remarkable way. His words share with us the story that goes untold. Life in a place most of will only see on television and then highly edited.  I can’t believe this is his first novel.

I understand he is at work on his next novel and I am anxiously awaiting it. This is definitely an author to watch!

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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 Just For Fun Challenge Wisconsin Author

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Aloha Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel (Elm Creek Quilts Novels)
Simon & Schuster
Elm Creek Quilt Series
16th in the Series

Bonnie escapes the winter in Pennsylvania and her soon to be ex-husband to visit her college friend Claire in Hawaii. While there she is going to help her set up a retreat similar to the Elm Creek Quilting Camp. Bonnie loves the calm of Hawaii but everything doesn’t go smoothly, especially when her husband starts to fight her for half of her share of Elm Creek Quilts.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This was my JUST FOR FUN book this month. This is one of my favorite series for many reasons. Before my accident one of my passions was quilting, the books in this series inspired me so much. Jennifer is a Wisconsin author and doesn’t live too far from me. We have never met and probably never will but I feel a bond to her through her stories. I may not physically be able to create the quilts with my hands but my mind is always creating quilts I hope to help my family make in the future. Once a quilter, always a quilter.

This book is unique in that it is full of Hawaiian history, with stories of not only how quilting came to the islands but a lot about the whole Hawaiian culture.

While this is Bonnie’s adventure the rest of the Elm Creek Quilters are an important part of the story. Part of this story actually takes place at the same time as the Elm Creek Quilters are celebrating A Quilter’s Holiday.

This is one of the series I have gotten behind on, but it one of the series I plan to catch up on for the Finish The Series Reading Challenge. The newest story Sonoma Rosecomes out February 21 and I just received an advanced copy so I will have to get busy reading!

I hope all of you are finding time to read Just For Fun! Remember the GoodReads group for this challenge closes to new members January 31. If you don’t have your topic set up accepting the challenge you will not be eligible for any prizes. If you haven’t signed up there is still time. Just follow this link for details or Click on the Just For Fun Challenge tab at the top of this page.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*This book was from my private collection.

Posted in Reviews 2011 Wisconsin Author

Hearts on a String by Kris Radish

Hearts on a String
Published May 2010
A group of women meet for the very first time in an airport bathroom in Florida. They seem to come together while helping one of the women retrieve her cell phone that has fallen into the toilet. Just as soon as the phone is saved an announcement shocks them all. The airport is closing due to a freak storm. No flights are going anywhere. Their choices are few, camp out in the airport with hundreds/thousands of other people for God knows how long or share a luxury hotel suite. They choose the hotel suite of course, and that is when this spur of the moment decision takes them on a very unexpected trip that could change their lives.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This was not my favorite Kris Radish book but after a slow start I really did enjoy it. This random group of women thrown together under strange circumstances and trying to cope with their huge differences was interesting, funny, sad and at times pretty unbelievable but I just went with it. Each woman was exceptional in their own way, handling some kind of stressful circumstances in each of their own lives and by sharing their stories it helped them to develop a weird type of bond. The psychic convention and another back story were a little over the top and I am not sure if these elements were even necessary to a book that may have been stronger without them. I didn’t like this one as much as I did The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, but it’s a engaging story of unlikely friendships.

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About This Author
To keep up with Kris be sure to check out her web page. Kris was born in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She now lives in Florida but I am proud to add her to my list of Wisconsin Authors.

I found out about this book on Jennifer’s blog, Rundpinne. She is taking a medical leave of absence from her blog so please keep her in your prayers. She is personally responsible for a great deal of the books on my To-Be-Read shelf and my wish list. Get Well Soon Jennifer.
This book was from my personal collection.

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Guest Posts Reviews 2011 Wisconsin Author

Cozy Wednesday with Author Rochelle Staab (Giveaway Too!)

Back in August I received the nicest email from Rochelle telling me how much she liked my blog Dollycas’s Thoughts, (I hope she likes this new revised version as well) but she also told me she was originally from Wisconsin and about her new book coming out November 1 and that is was a cozy mystery. Well you know what that meant, I immediately wrote back to her and signed her to Guest Post here.

Since then I have read the book, Who Do, Voodoo? (A Mind for Murder Mystery), and loved it!!! Rochelle was in Wisconsin last week to publicize her book, but we didn’t get to meet in person this time. I know we will get together in the future. Right now I am just so pleased that she is here today, especially with Thanksgiving tomorrow!!!

Welcome Rochelle!!

Thank you so much for inviting me here on Cozy Wednesday, Lori. I’m thrilled to be in the company of the wonderful writers who post here, and proud to raise my hand as a native Wisconsin author. Although fate transplanted me to New York then Los Angeles, I am a Midwest gal at heart.

As I bake pecan pies for tomorrow’s dinner, I’m filled with gratitude. Thanksgiving 2011 is particularly special for me—my first book went on sale this month, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Seeing Who Do, Voodoo? on bookstore shelves took my breath away. Tears? Indeed.

Today I’d like to take the Dollycas’ readers into my writing cave to share some of the other things I am grateful for as a writer:

1. Loud, noisy, hyperactive characters who won’t shut up when they enter a scene. These characters are fun to write because they’ll blurt out the most outrageous comments, mess up the plot, shift directions, and create conflict. Viv, my main character’s mother, is a good example. I can’t say who inspired Viv (my Mom?) but she’s a blast to write. Most of the time characters like this need to be edited, but they’re much more dynamic than characters who opt to take an emotional day off when I need them to react.

2. Scenes that write themselves. Occasionally scenes fool me because on the outline or in planning stages they appear complicated or tricky. Maybe the story is headed toward a big confrontation or dark moment or multi-character gathering I know is necessary but a bear to organize. Then “voila!” I start writing and the scene flows out as smoothly as telling my best friend Pat the minute details of a party complete with dialog, wardrobe, and props.

3. Surprising plot twists. The best. As I began writing Who Do, Voodoo? I was certain I knew exactly who the killer would be. A third of the way in I thought, “Huh. It’s not that person—it’s THAT person.” Two-thirds through I realized, “Holy cow, I was wrong again. The killer is THAT person!” I hope the plot of every novel I write shocks me somewhere along the way because, in turn, the reader (and my amateur sleuth) will be surprised too.

4. Cold Readers. These are the guinea pigs, intelligent and patient souls who read my novels before anyone else, even before my genius editor picks up her red pencil. Cold readers are like the saleswoman who comes in the department store dressing room with the pluck to tell me my butt looks huge in a dress instead of gushing or keeping her mouth shut just to get me to the cash register. It’s great to have one cold reader who gushes, but the treasures are the one who will say, “The main character would NEVER go down to the basement alone. What were you thinking? Rewrite the scene,” and frame their words as a constructive compliment. I (heart) my critique partners and cold readers.

5. The End. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. The utter joy of typing those two little words comes wrapped in a major sigh of relief with arms in the air and cheers—even if I will be rewriting and editing the entire blasted story at least three more times.

The community of cozy readers, reviewers, bloggers, and writers is the most amazing group of supporters any writer could hope for and will also be on my gratitude list tomorrow. When dinner is over and I’m curled up in bed, I’ll be opening a good cozy for a great read.

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving everyone!


Thank You Rochelle!!!! I love those loud, noisy characters as you will see in my review. I want to add that as I getting this article ready to post I have learned that Rochelle’s book has made the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers List. Congratulations Rochelle!!! Can you pass a piece of that pecan pie?

Rochelle Staab, a former award-winning radio programmer and music industry marketing executive, blended her fascination with the supernatural and her love for mystery in Who Do, Voodoo?the first novel in her Mind for Murder Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. BRUJA BROUHAHA, the second novel in the series will be released in August 2012.
You can find out more about Rochelle at
or Follow her at:


Who Do, Voodoo? (A Mind for Murder Mystery)
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
1st in the Series
Cover Illustration by Blake Morrow
Cover Design by Diana Kolsky

Who Do, Voodoo?,the first novel in Rochelle Staab’s thrilling new Mind for Murder Mystery series features no-nonsense Liz Cooper, a Los Angeles psychologist forced to embrace the occult to clear her best friend of murder.

When Liz Cooper’s friend Robin Bloom finds an unusual tarot card tacked to her front door, Liz writes it off as a prank. Robin refuses to ignore the omen—her late husband drew the same card, the three of swords, in a reading the night before he was killed in a car accident. As more cards and darker threats appear, Liz realizes someone very dangerous is upping the ante.

Liz turns to her brother’s old college roommate, occult expert Nick Garfield. As Nick leads her into the voodoo community to locate the origin of the deck, she can’t ignore their attraction to each other. Then a woman is found murdered and Robin becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her friend, Liz joins forces with Nick to unravel otherworldly secrets and seek help from beyond—or risk being outwitted by a cunning killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
First I have to say this is Rochelle’s debut novel, not just published novel, this is the first book she has written. Unbelievable!! She is such a wonderful storyteller I was sure she had written several books, but no, this the first, I asked her more than once. She even talks about it during an interview she did last week in Milwaukee.

Liz Cooper and I are on the same page when it comes to tarot cards and voodoo, we are doubters, it’s fine if you believe it but it not our “cup of tea”, so no tea leaves for us. You do not have to believe to absolutely love this story. In fact, a little doubt makes you relate to Liz as she delves in to investigate this murder to clear her friend. Both Liz and the reader learn about voodoo, including Haitian Vodou and Louisiana or New Orleans Voodoo. The history of both is very interesting and the way Rochelle connects them to the characters in this story is almost magical.

My favorite character of course was Liz, but her mother is an absolute hoot!! She never misses an opportunity to try to get Liz to reunite with her ex-husband and whenever she talks to Liz about her brother she always says,”your brother, Dave”. Liz only has one brother and she does know his name. It just cracked me up every time. Liz is an expert at dealing with or not dealing with her mother. Loved it!!

This is a perfect cozy mystery, unique characters, clever plot, creative setting, spiced up with a little romance and humor. It is a fabulous debut and I can’t wait for the next installment. The Wisconsin girl did a great job, now she needs to have Liz make a trip to the Midwest for a Mind For Murder sequel, just a thought!!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the great people at Penguin I have
2 copies of WHO DO VOODOO? to giveaway!

U.S. & Canadian Residents

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 Rochelle for 5 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End December 7 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Cozy Wednesday Special Addition with Author Kathleen Ernst (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to the special edition of Cozy Wednesday on Thursday. This is an extra special day for me. Kathleen Ernst is a Wisconsin Author and her Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series is set at the historic site of Old World Wisconsin and the surrounding area. All four of our kids had school field trips to Old World Wisconsin and my husband and I took turns being chaperones. We love that place and can’t wait until our grandson is just a little older so we can take him there too.

Please help me Welcome Kathleen Ernst to Escape With Dollycas!!!

Hi Kathleen!!

Hi Everyone! I am happy to be here! I am glad Dollycas and I connected so I could take a moment to tell you about…

Murder, Past and Present
by Kathleen Ernst

Novelist William Faulkner once said, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” If Faulkner hadn’t said that, Chloe Ellefson—the protagonist of my Historic Sites mysteries—might have.

Chloe is a curator at large historic site called Old World Wisconsin. She is not an amateur sleuth in the traditional sense. She isn’t nosey or particularly observant. She takes no pleasure in being involved with crimes. If it were up to her, all detection would be left to local cop Roelke McKenna.

Alas, events conspire against her. In Old World Murder, Chloe’s first day on the job comes to a troubling end when an elderly donor comes looking for a family antique that she’d donated to Old World Wisconsin years earlier. Moments later, the woman dies in a car crash. When Chloe realizes that the antique in question is missing, she tries to find it. As curator, it’s her job; she also wants to honor the donor’s memory. Chloe begins to suspect that someone else is after the artifact, but authorities initially take no interest. What’s a curator to do?

In my new release, The Heirloom Murders, Chloe is dragged into the middle of a complicated set of crimes. Roelke McKenna takes the investigative lead, and tries hard to keep Chloe uninvolved in police matters. Just one problem with that plan—the motivation for murder is rooted in historical events. In the end, Chloe’s knowledge helps Roelke understand the situation he’s confronting.

Readers often ask writers where they get their ideas. For me, it’s pretty simple: I used to work as a curator at Old World Wisconsin, and I’ve always been fascinated by the past. While traveling or doing research I look for a spark—some compelling bit of information or lore that makes me want to plunge into a new novel. I like to find stories that haven’t been widely told. I love shining my tiny bit of lantern light on those events in fictional form.

And I love devising ways to illustrate how history can tangle lives in the here-and-now. After all, aren’t all communities and families the sum of everything that has gone on before? We’re all shaped by past events.

I think William Faulkner had it right. How about you? Have you considered how long-gone events affect your life today?

I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to celebrate publication of The Heirloom Murders (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by guest-posting here. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page and your name will go into a drawing for a free book. The winner can choose any of my seventeen titles. The Heirloom Murders, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours! To learn more, please visit my website,


**Book blurb, The Heirloom Murders:
Working for Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson delights in losing herself in antiques and folk traditions–and forgetting her messy love life. Then the outdoor ethnic museum becomes a murder scene. Does the missing Eagle diamond, a legendary gemstone unearthed in 1876, have anything to do with it? Could Simon Sabatola, a rich AgriFutures executive who possibly drove his wife to suicide, be responsible? Chloe learns that some things never change in this compelling mystery of old-fashioned greed, Swiss green cheese, and a nearly-extinct heirloom flower.

The books are both published my Midnight Ink and are available now anywhere books are sold.
Dollycas’s Thoughts
I loved both of these books. First because they were a mini trip down memory lane, but Kathleen describes the settings so well you won’t have had to visit the historic site to feel like you are right there in the farmhouses, the barns, or even Chloe’s trailer office. Chloe also travels around the area and the author’s words take us right along with her.

I also enjoyed that Chloe really doesn’t want to being the middle of any of the investigations, she would rather be doing her job as Curator of Collections, keep her boss off her back and spending time with her new friends.

The best part though are the mysteries. They are so well plotted and intelligently written, with plenty of spins and spills, twists and turns. The characters take some turns and spills themselves.

These stories also educate us about the cultures of old Wisconsin in a subtle way. I especially liked the peek we had when a older couple told the story of coming to Wisconsin and making a special type of cheese. The back stories are as rich as the mysteries that unfold in each book. The way historical and modern times mesh together in these stories is truly delightful. You can feel Kathleen’s passion for Old World Wisconsin in her words. She understands the history and the extra research she does for ideas is going to give her a wide range of things to shine a light on in future stories.

This isn’t your ordinary cozy, it is so much more!!! It earns the rating of

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Midnight Ink and the author. 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.”

Now for the giveaway!!!
Kathleen is giving away your choice of one of her books. The winner can choose any of her seventeen titles. The Heirloom Murders, one of her American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours! To learn more, please visit her website,

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

Contest Will End November 3 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.