Posted in Reviews 2012 Wisconsin Setting

Review: Plotting at the PTA by Laura Alden

Plotting at the PTA
(PTA Mystery Series)
3rd in Series
An Obsidian Mystery
Published by New American Library
A Division of the Penguin Group
Published July 3, 2012
310 Pages or 760 KB

Plotting at the PTA

Beth Kennedy has a wonderful money making idea for the P.T.A. A project that matches a Senior Citizen from a local assisted living center with Tarver Elementary students so that the elders can share their stories. The students then write up the information to publish in a book for the group to sell.

Beth gets a little sidetracked when one of regular customers at the bookstore, Amy Jacobson, dies after receiving several bee stings. It seems a little early for bees in Wisconsin and Amy was so very careful whenever she ventured outside.

Beth finds herself buzzing around trying to get the rest of the story. Who may have wanted Amy stung permanently?

Dollycas Thoughts

Beth always finds herself hip deep in a mystery and those mysteries usually involve murder. She is so easy to identify with because her huge heart shines through in everything she does. Even when she is trapped into doing something she doesn’t want to do. I found myself not liking Auntie May here and there but she also reminded me a lot of my mother. 🙂

The story has it’s twists and turns and one very surprising development. This author’s writing continues to get better and better. She is letting her characters evolve so naturally. Beth is getting to know her customers. She knows when they do things that just aren’t normal for them. The dialogue between Marina and Beth is fresh and full of humor. The members are the P.T.A. are unique and real, every school group has a Claudia.

The next installment has been set up. Beth is sure to have some challenges ahead. I can’t wait!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Very Special Guest Lesley Kagen Answers My Questions (Giveaway too!)

One of joys of blogging is getting to “meet” authors. You know how much I love to feature authors from my home state of Wisconsin. Last year another Wisconsin author Rochelle Staab recommended a book by Lesley called Whistling In The Dark and I fell hard for the characters and setting. The book brought back many of my childhood memories. Good Graces is the sequel to that book and it was released in paperback on May 1st. As soon as I heard about this release I contacted Lesley and I couldn’t believe she said “Yes!” when I asked her to drop by for a few questions. I did a little research and tried to come up with some good questions to ask her. I hope you agree as we get to know a little bit more about the author the writes these wonderful stories. I will post my review of Good Graces after we spend a little time with Lesley!

Hi Lesley!

Hi Everyone! It’s great to spend a little time here today!

 

1. Is it harder to write from a child’s perspective as an adult? You do it so well.

Thank you! The most important part is slipping on my little girl tennis shoes, so that I can write as authentically as I can. It’s important to me to get it right. I don’t find it difficult. Actually, pretty relaxing. Aren’t all of us adults just kids at heart?

2. How did you decide to visit Troo and Sally again, was it the original plan or did you decide there was more to their story that needed to be told?
I received so many wonderful emails from readers all over the world after Whistling In the Dark was released. Thankfully, they wanted more…more…more of the O’Malley sisters. My standard line was…Thank you, but no way. I’ll write a sequel over my dead body. Ha! After I had written Land of a Hundred Wonders and Tomorrow River, both novels set in the South, I got homesick and wanted to set my next book back in Wisconsin. I yearned to pay the old neighborhood another visit, but was worried that I would be unable to re-capture the characters voices and the setting, but when I sat down to write Good Graces, there my girls were…standing on a Vliet Street corner, blue transistor radio in hand, just waiting for me to show up.

3. You started out in music, what kind of music is your favorite? What would we find on you Ipod or in your CD player right now?

Gosh, depending on my mood…I like blues and R & B, country, and, of course, old school rock ‘n roll. The Dixie Chicks are on my player right now.

4. I can’t believe it, you were on Laverne and Shirley in the episode Take Two, They’re Small where Lenny and Squiggy set up Laverne and Shirley on dates with little people. I tried to find the episode, but no luck there. What part did you play? What was it like being on actress on television?
I guest-starred with another actress, Debbie White, on L & S. We played good-for-nothing sisters. It was fantastic fun. I love acting, but not as much as writing.

5. Can you give us some hints about you next book and when it will be coming out?
My next book is entitled THE MARE’S NEST. It’s a mother/daughter story set in the horse world. After I finish it up (almost) my agent will try to find an interested publisher. Once it’s been sold, it’ll take a little over a year for it to be released.

6. If you are ready to “escape into a good book” who are you reading?
There are so many authors I love! Tough to pick just one, so I’ll tell you what I’m reading now. Alexander McCall’s,The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Fabulous!

LIGHTNING ROUND

1. Favorite Ice Cream?
Chocolate

2. Favorite Color?
Blue

3. Favorite Restaurant?
Mama Mia’s Pizza, a childhood favorite.

4. Best thing about living in Wisconsin?
Hands down…the people. They’re one of a kind.

Thank you Lesley! I hope you will come back when you new book comes out or whenever you like. You have an open invitation to stop by and chat anytime!

To find out more about Lesley Kagen be sure to visit http://lesleykagen.com/

Now let me tell you about this book!!!

Good Graces
Dutton/New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group

Kagen takes us back to Milwaukee in this sequel to the National Bestseller Whistling In the Dark. One year has passed and Sally is still trying to deal with her escape from a child molester and murderer and the loss of her father. She promised her dad she would take care of her rebel sister Troo and keep her safe. Troo is not making the promise very easy to keep as she gets in trouble at school and sneaks out of their bedroom in the middle of the night.

The neighborhood is having a crime wave with several burglaries. Then an orphan boy goes missing and Troo’s arch enemy has escaped from reform school. Is Troo involved in these incidents? Is she going to hunt down the boy that escaped and try to get revenge? Is she the “cat burgler”? Sally will do anything to save her sister even if it means putting herself in danger.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Life through the eyes of a child. Lesley Kagen is a master at writing from these young viewpoints.

Funny from having to write the charitable story over the summer to turn in on the first day of school to Troo pretending she is French and wanting to be called “Leeze”, visits to the Latour house where they have so many kids an extra one or two is never noticed and the muu-muu wearing granny who looks like George Washington. The childhood games and songs, the old sayings we all heard time and time again going up like “when it rains it pours and “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

Sad as the zoo moves across town, dealing with the changes that have come about since their fathers death.

Mysterious as we learn there is something going on at the church.

Kagen takes us on a time back in time. I would love to be sitting with Ethel on the porch or go to all the happenings at the park.

This is a completely charming novel just like Whistling In the Dark. Wonderfully drawn characters with engaging stories that all blend together with perfect precision. I think this one is even better than its predecessor! Escape to Milwaukee 1960 this summer, you will be glad you made the trip!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin I have
one brand new paperback copy to give away.

U.S. and 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 Lesley to receive 5 more Bonus Entries!

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

Contest Will End May 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
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 Reviews 2012 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

The Sausage Maker’s Daughter by A.G.S. Johnson

2012dollycas favorite general fiction
The Sausage Maker’s Daughters: A Novel
BiblioFile Press
Available Now

Set in Wisconsin, in the early 70’s, Kip Czermanski has come back home from California. When she moved away she vowed to never come back but her sister’s illness and subsequent death brought her back and now her life has turned inside out.

Kip has been arrested for murder. The murder of a former lover, who just happens to be her brother-in-law. She sits in a jail cell awaiting her fate. For a family formerly held in high esteem by the entire town as its largest employer this is the ultimate failure.

The story takes us from her cell, to the courtroom and back through her past. Being the Sausage Maker’s daughter may not save her this time.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

This story just blew me away. Definitely the best book this year if not several years. The truth that came out at the end was just “Oh My God”, not at all what I expected.

For those of you not from Wisconsin or not familiar with Wisconsin history the recent protests in Madison were nothing compared to the protests that were held on the University of Wisconsin campus during the Vietnam War. The author described Madison as a sort of “Third Coast,” especially during the Vietnam era in a recent interview. Schools like Columbia and Berkeley, situated on either coast of the country, were legendary for their radical movements. Madison, here in the Midwest was facing similar social upheaval. The University of Wisconsin became known for radical ideas too.

This author puts Kip Czermanski was right in the middle of it. She was a college student at the UW in the 60’s. She left her conservative family back in Wausaukeesha and becomes a bra-burning, Afro-wearing, antiwar feminist on a mission. She spends her college years protesting the war being tear gassed, billy-clubbed, and even arrested. She was devoted to the cause and never backed down. Her family never understood her rebellion. 

The protests started in Madison in 1964 and in August 1970 Sterling Hall in the center of the UW Campus was bombed by four young people as a protest against the University’s research connections with the US military during the Vietnam War. It resulted in the death of a university physics researcher and injuries to three others.

Wausaukeesha like the story is fictional but mirrors several towns of the 60’s and 70’s. The violence and demonstrations of that time are very real. Beyond all that the story really takes on family dynamics and sibling rivalry in a powerful way. Doing what looks best in the public eye over what is right, keeping family secrets, twisting small town values to suit what is needed for the family. The characters in this story are going to grab you and not let you go.

Ags Johnson is an remarkable storyteller and this is her debut novel. I don’t know if I can find enough adjectives to tell you how excellent this story is but I will start with riveting, engaging, engrossing and gripping. You have to read this book. It gets more than 5 stars from me.  This is not a story to be missed and Ags Johnson is another up and coming star we all need to keep our eyes on!

 

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
A.G.S. Johnson always intended to be a writer. But raised in a Midwestern family of five girls and no boys, she embarked on a career in the corporate world that would allow her to explore why men were treated differently than women. Armed with a business degree, for over 20 years she was a banker, most often working with international currencies.

Still, writing remained a dream, so she returned to school, earned a masters degree in fiction writing from the University of Southern California and proceeded to pursue her lifelong ambition. Her debut novel The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, 12 years in the making, releases Feb. 7, 2012.

In addition to her passion for reading, traveling and all things French, Johnson serves on the Board of the Council of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, and is a founding board member of The World is Just a Book Away. Proceeds from The Sausage Maker’s Daughters benefit this relatively young charity that builds libraries in developing countries.

Since the late 70’s Johnson has made her home first in Northern California, now in Los Angeles, where the author lives with her husband of 20 years and their menagerie of cats and dogs. She is currently working on her second novel, a medical murder mystery based on a true story of discovery and deceit.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this novel will be donated to The World is Just a Book Away, a charity that builds libraries for children in developing countries, changing their lives forever through access to books.

Should you wish more information please go to: justabookaway.org.

Follow her on my Blog.

The Author Will be in Wisconsin for Book Signings at
Books & Company – Thursday, April 26th at 7pm
1039 Summit Ave
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
www.booksco.com

and
The Reader’s Loft – In-Store Event April 28th, 2012 2pm

2069 Central Ct #44
Green Bay, WI 54311
920-406-0200

About Wisconsin
The people of Wisconsin are still standing up to injustices as I write this review. Our governor and lieutenant governor and several senators are facing recall elections. The war on women, destroying collective bargaining, and shear disregard to what the people want has the people of Wisconsin fired up. Wisconsin has always been at the forefront of worker’s rights and civil rights. It is been called “Ground Zero”, the way the elections go here in June is going to affect all 50 states.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from 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.”

Posted in Giveaways Reviews 2012 Thoughts Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Special Post!! Amber Eyes by Jolyn Palliata

At the end of January I received an email from Jolyn saying a friend told her about my blog and that I liked to feature Wisconsin Authors, which of course I do. Then I read the next line of the email and got a little nervous because Jolyn writes paranormal romance. By now you all know my feelings, nice ghosts and witches are o.k., vampires, werewolves, and zombies not my thing. After a trip to Amazon.com to check out her books, I found one that sounded like something I would like. So I wrote back to her and said I would give Amber Eyes a try, no promises, and that I probably wouldn’t get to it until mid-February. The book arrived, Jolyn sent me her bio (which I will share), and then I left her up in the air until last week. I told her I had read the book, my review would appear today, not to worry and thanked her for sending me the book I am now going to tell you about. I did tell her what I thought of the book too. I am not that mean.

She will even be stopping by to answer any questions or comments so please show her some love!!


Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One)

Lexi survives a horrible accident, her best friend is not so lucky. After trying to deal with her grief with the help of her friends and family, her life starts to get back on track when she meets Dez, a new guy at school. He has the most beautiful eyes she has ever seen, she can’t help but gaze into them. She seems to have so much in common with Dez it is almost unbelievable. Then Lexi starts to have the most vivid dreams that seem to drag her back in time and into the arms of a very familiar stranger, Dez. Lexi shares her dreams with him and he changes her world forever with two simple words. Soul Mates.

Lexi feels so safe with Dez, things have never been better, but lingering in the shadows in something evil. Something that is a threat to her very existence and to a love she knows has transcended through time.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Hold on to your seats because I am surprised as you are, I LOVED this story.

It is beautifully written and went in a direction I didn’t truly expect.  I know the book cover says Entwined Souls but it was surprising to me where the author takes us. I have to be careful because part of the charm of this book is the surprises.

These high school age characters wormed their way right into my heart and wouldn’t let go. The range of emotions so vast and vivid. The setting, here in Wisconsin, places a native will recognize, even though the exact place in not named added to my enjoyment. I also loved the kitty in the story. One particular part had me laughing out loud. 

I do not usually read young adult or much paranormal but it is books like this that have me changing my reading comfort level.  If you are fan of these genres this a book to pick up today. If like me you are usually not comfortable in those areas this is the book and the author that will have you second guessing yourself. I am calling this one a must read and a perfect escape!!!

 About This Author

Jolyn’s writing career began in 2009 when she looked across the sea of cubicles at work, and thought, “I was meant for something more than this.” That thought was immediately followed by, “I wonder if I can write a novel.” Four novels and one novella later, that question has been answered. She started with Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One), a young adult paranormal romance. They always say, with the first book, you write about what you know. And she certainly did! Drawing off her teenage years in Oshkosh, WI, Jolyn incorporated her high school and favorite haunts. She even pulled out her favorite music from back then to help recapture the teenager within.

Jolyn has absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to be a writer, other than a knack and a passion. The knack she worked hard for through betas, critique partners, writer sites, editors, etc, but the passion she’s had since she was in middle school.

Being married, and mother to one very precocious six-year-old, doesn’t leave her with a whole heckofalot of time to write – not to mention working full-time – but that is where lack of sleep comes in very handy. Jolyn has a gift of functioning on minimal sleep when totally absorbed by a writing project…although she crashes like dead weight when it’s fully completed/edited (usually 2-3 months later).

Her currently listing of published books includes:

Random information and quirks about Jolyn (because everyone has them):

  • She likes to listen to loud music. Period. But especially when she has a headache (helps to drown it out).
  • When she’s overtired, she gets slaphappy. (Heaven help those around her.)
  • She titles a book before she writes it, because she’s anal enough to where that would bother her.
  • She can’t walk into a Barnes and Noble without buying a book. Even if she has a pile of unread books at home (which she does), it just doesn’t seem right to leave empty-handed.
******************************************

Now for a true treat and surprise!!! Jolyn is letting me give a copy of this wonderful book away!!!!  Interested???

U.S. 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 Jolyn for 5 Bonus Entries.

Tell your friends and family about this book!
If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive

5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End March 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner 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, www.kathleenernst.com

 

**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,www.kathleenernst.com

U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
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 Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.