Posted in Guest Posts

Guilty as Framed (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) by Lois Winston #GuestPost

Due to my hospitalization last month I was unable to post this guest post during Lois’s Great Escapes Tour.
I didn’t want you to miss out on it so I am posting today.

Eight Paws and a Beak
By Lois Winston

When I was asked to write a cozy mystery series, I knew I should include a pet. Cozy readers love books with pets, especially dogs or cats. Sometimes the pet is even an integral part of helping to solve the mystery. I also have many friends who write cozy mysteries, and most of them are pet owners.

I’m the outlier. I don’t have a fur baby. Instead, I have allergies. Allergies to just about all pets. At least the kind you can pet, cuddle, and play with. Tropical fish would probably be safe, but I consider those pretty things to watch swimming around rather than pets. If it has fur or feathers, I need to steer clear, and chances are, I’d probably also have issues with amphibians and reptiles. I’m even allergic to certain people—or at least to some of the grooming products they use.

I used to have pets. When I was a teenager, we had a dog. I walked around sneezing and coughing and suffering with horrible sinus headaches for several years until I left for college. Once I had my own apartment, I tried kittens. What was I thinking? The headaches, sneezing, and coughing returned with a vengeance.

When my kids were young, we got them a pair of gerbils. Even though I stayed far away from the cage, I still suffered.

So, unfortunately, I remain petless. My protagonist in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries is far from petless, though. Not only does Anastasia’s household include her mother-in-law’s French bulldog Mephisto and occasionally Catherine the Great, her mother’s Persian cat, but Anastasia has also inherited her great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle’s African Grey parrot.

However, Ralph is no ordinary parrot. Having spent most of his life in Great-aunt Penelope’s classroom, listening to lectures on the works of William Shakespeare, Ralph possesses a unique talent. He has the uncanny ability to squawk situation-appropriate quotes from the Bard of Avon.

Is this even possible? Some African Grey’s do have huge vocabularies, but even though I’ve read up on the species, I’m no parrot expert. It doesn’t matter, though. I write fiction, humorous fiction. If readers can suspend their disbelief enough to accept a protagonist who stumbles across more murders than the average cop in an entire law enforcement career, why not a Shakespeare quoting parrot?

Ralph is also very protective of his adoptive family. I hope you’ll check out how he proves his worth in Guilty as Framed.

About Guilty as Framed

Guilty as Framed (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
11th in Series
Setting – New Jersey
Independently Published (September 6, 2022)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 263 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B1XHPLBC

When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history.

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He refuses to believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes.

A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

Crafts projects included.

About Lois Winston

USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Lois Winston began her award-winning writing career with Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous fish-out-of-water novel about a small-town girl going off to the big city and the mother who had other ideas. That was followed by the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception.

Then Lois’s writing segued unexpectantly into the world of humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, thanks to a conversation her agent had with an editor looking for craft-themed mysteries. In her day job Lois was an award-winning craft and needlework designer, and although she’d never written a mystery—or had even thought about writing a mystery—her agent decided she was the perfect person to pen a series for this editor. Thus, was born the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, which Kirkus Reviews dubbed “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series now includes eleven novels and three novellas. Lois also writes the Empty Nest Mysteries, currently at two novels, and one book so far in her Mom Squad Capers series.

To date, Lois has published twenty novels, five novellas, several short stories, one children’s chapter book, and one nonfiction book on writing, inspired by her twelve years working as an associate at a literary agency.

Author Links

Website    Newsletter sign-up     Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog  Pinterest    Twitter   Goodreads   Bookbub

Purchase Links 

Purchase Links – AmazonNookKoboiBookstore 

Be sure to sign up for Lois’s Newsletter so you will know what she is up to and when the next Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery will be released.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent


Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts

Special Guest – Cheryl Hollon – Author of Death a Sketch (A Paint & Shine Mystery) #GuestPost / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @CherylHollon.

Death a Sketch (A Paint & Shine Mystery)
by Cheryl Hollon

It is my pleasure to welcome Cheryl Hollon
to Escape With Dollycas today!

I Love Independent Bookstores
by Cheryl Hollon


It’s already August! It is day 220 out of 365 days in the year 2022. Yikes, that means that this year is more than half done – how did that happen? I haven’t written down my goals for this year, but that’s another story.

This has been a year of change for me—significant changes. We sold our house and moved to a condo apartment in downtown St. Petersburg. Locally, it’s called DTSP, St. Pete, or the Burg. But in any case, we love the urban lifestyle and embrace the freedom that comes with owning a small but big enough space with a screened-in balcony for morning cups of coffee and dining outdoors.

I’m not the only one in my circle who has moved. A local bookstore that has been a champion for my books and a friend to cozy readers, Books @ Park Place, has moved to a new location at 6800 Gulfport Boulevard S., Unit #113, in the South Pasadena Shopping Center, Pasadena, FL.

I’m excited because their new location is much closer to the beaches and has a higher rate of walk-by traffic. This is good for a local bookstore. I’ve known the owner, Nancy Alloy, for several years now. She’s the perfect bookseller. She knows what I like to read and has several new recommendations each time I visit.

She also has book signing events that feature various authors ranging from poets, horror, self-published, rescue organizations, board game night, and movie book night. The store is on Facebook, and the bookstore phone number is (727) 388-9093

Another champion for local authors is a relatively new establishment called Tombolo Books. They have a curated selection of the best contemporary fiction and nonfiction titles worldwide. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the owners opened a unique brick-and-mortar store in the Grand Central District at 2153 1st Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL.

Founder Alsace Walentine was the longtime events director of Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC, before moving to St. Petersburg with her partner and store co-owner Candice Anderson. I was delighted to launch DEATH A SKETCH at Tombolo Books on July 26, 2022, from 6:00-7:00 pm. Visit their website.

The newcomer to downtown St. Petersburg is another type of bookstore altogether. It calls itself a bookstore with wine and a wine bar with books. They have coffee and snacks, too. You can work from the bar or meet some friends for happy hour.

Owner Terra Dunham worked for 14 months on the debut of Book + Bottle, a dream-turned-reality wine bar in downtown St. Pete. She opened two days before the mandated pandemic shutdown. The timing couldn’t have been worse, but she needed to figure something out.

They pivoted from in-house wine bar operations to a delivery service that offered two shelter-at-home staples: books and wine. Through tenacity and creative persistence, the store is thriving. I’m hosting an author event in August. This is their website.

I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore if you’re lucky enough to have one within driving distance. The hard times are not over for these precious bookstores. Let’s support them in any way we can.

Thank you, Cheryl, so much for visiting today! 

Keep reading for the details about Cheryl’s new book. 

About Death a Sketch

Death a Sketch (A Paint & Shine Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Kentucky
Kensington (July 26, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 149672528X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496725288
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09KP3TJ8F

In eastern Kentucky, Miranda Trent runs a unique tour company called Paint & Shine, but sometimes the peaceful mountains play host to murder . . .

Miranda’s business—combining Appalachian adventure tours with art and a bit of moonshine—is the perfect place for an outdoor sporting goods company to hold an employee retreat. It’ll be a challenge, but the money they’re paying will definitely help with building her new distillery.

Miranda has lots of teamwork-fostering activities planned, from sketching classes to Southern cooking, but the executive running things prefers a more competitive spirit. In fact, after the workers are split into teams, they’re told that only the winners will keep their jobs, and tensions begin to spike. Even after a participant is found dead, the contest continues—while Miranda starts drawing her own conclusions about the ambitious attendees. Now she just has to find the proof . . .

About Cheryl Hollon

Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for oil painting and creating glass art. Cheryl and her husband live in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Visit her online at, on Facebook or on Twitter @CherylHollon.

Purchase Links
AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBoundKensington

Also by Cheryl Hollon

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
August 1 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT
August 1 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 1 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
August 2 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE
August 3 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 3 – Books Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – The Mystery of Writing – GUEST POST
August 4 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 5 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW
August 5 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
August 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
August 6 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
August 7 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 7 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT  
August 8 – Novels Alive – REVIEW, RECIPE
August 8 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 9 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
August 9 – Celticlady’s Reviews = SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  
August 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts

Special Guest – K.D. Richards – Author of Shielding Her Son (West Investigations) #Interview / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Shielding Her Son (West Investigations)
by K.D. Richards

About Shielding Her Son

It is my pleasure to have K.D. Richards
visit Escape With Dollycas today!

Welcome K.D.,
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a former attorney, a mom of two, and a lifelong writer. I live outside of Toronto and enjoy long walks and playing the violin and piano in addition to reading and writing.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I love research, it’s just part of my naturally inquisitive nature. I may do a little research before I start a manuscript if there’s something I don’t know but in general, I do most of my research during or after I’ve written my first draft. It helps to know what my story is and where it is going before I dive into research so I don’t get too in the weeds.

Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
Generally, if I find myself suffering from writer’s block it is because I’m tired or something in the story isn’t working as it should. After I rest a bit, I’ll take a step back and look at what I’ve already written and that usually helps me see where I’ve gone wrong and to get over the block.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Keep writing and reading. Writing, like many things, is something you have to do in order to get better at it. Also, studying the writing of other authors will help you so much.

When you are not writing what do you like to do?
Reading! I guess that’s a given. I also enjoy hanging out with my family and eating (not cooking though!).

Did the COVID pandemic affect you and your writing?
It was tough for a while there because I have school-aged children and they were at online school. But it forced me to use the time I had wisely and to really focus on my writing process and cut out some of my worst habits (ie. procrastinating).

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
So many places. I love Spain and have been several times. Italy, Greece. Egypt. South Africa. Iceland. Japan. Sweden. Switzerland. Australia. LOL. Really anywhere. I don’t love the actual travel part of traveling but I love being in new places.

What is next on the horizon for you?
More West Investigations of course! I’m also working on a stand-alone thriller.

Thank you, K.D. for visiting today!

Shielding Her Son (West Investigations)
Romantic Suspense
4th in Series
Harlequin Intrigue (July 26, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1335582088
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1335582089
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09N1PY2PH

She thought she’d escaped her past…

Has it caught up with her?

Erika Powell has lived in hiding for years to protect her son from his wealthy, tyrannical grandfather. Wary of strangers, she’s suspicious of James West, who’s renting a neighboring cabin, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when attempts are made on Erika’s life, James fears he may have endangered her—because the undercover PI’s investigation of Erika may have led someone dangerous right to her.

From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Discover more action-packed stories in the West Investigations series. All books are stand-alone with uplifting endings but were published in the following order:

Book 1: Pursuit of the Truth
Book 2: Missing at Christmas
Book 3: Christmas Data Breach
Book 4: Shielding Her Son

More About K.D. Richards

K.D. Richards was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college Kia earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently splits her time between Toronto and Maryland with her husband and two sons.

Author Links

Website     Facebook      Instagram      GoodReads

Purchase Links

Harlequin   Amazon    Kobo     B&N 

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
July 25 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW  
July 25 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
July 26 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 26 – My Journey Back – SPOTLIGHT  
July 26 – Novels Alive – SPOTLIGHT
July 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
July 27 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
July 27 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
July 27 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
July 27 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 28 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
July 28 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
July 28 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 29 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 29 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
July 29 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
July 30 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 30 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 31 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 31 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
July 31 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts Literary Escapes Wisconsin Setting You Read How Many Books Challenge

Special Guest – Terry Korth Fischer – Author of Double Dipped (One Scoop or Two) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @terryiswriting

Double Dipped (One Scoop or Two)
by Terry Korth Fischer

It is my pleasure to welcome Terry to Escape With Dollycas today!

by Terry Korth Fischer

Flannery O’Connor claims that those who survive to the age of fifteen have enough material to write stories for the rest of their lives. Yet, a frequent question I get at workshops is, how do I come up with story ideas. Comments usually start with, “If I write from experience, I have nothing to write about; my life is boring.” Or ordinary, or dull, or average… Yet, none of us live dull lives. Every day combines physical activity, amazing people, complex situations, and fleeting fears. Take any one of these, and you have the makings for a story. As author Orson Scott said, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”

So, you aren’t a mass murderer, internet influencer, or brothel madam; you are a complicated person with plenty to draw on when drafting a story. But, just in case you don’t know, what you know, here is a list of five advantages you start with when you sit down with an idea.

    • Intellect. You can learn. You use your intelligence to pick up knowledge in classes, daily life, books, and conversations with friends or mentors. You are continually trying to figure out what life is all about. Did you discover something new today? Something that led you to seek more information, ask questions, and feel amazed? Include that curiosity in your writing.
    • Intentions, willpower, and dreams. Your life is an unfolding adventure. You direct your efforts, focus your thoughts, and get where you want to go—or try to. Give these traits to your characters. Recall the determination you summoned to finish a job, win an award, or solve a puzzle? Or desiring something so badly it hurt? Your characters, too, need goals.
    • Emotions. You express a range of feelings. You’re not only serious, motivated, and eager, but sometimes silly, fierce, generous, sad, optimistic, and stubborn. And more often than not, you experience many of these feelings simultaneously. So, you know how they feel, what they do to your voice and body. Remember how you felt in the waiting room before taking the dentist’s chair? Or sitting in the dark waiting for electricity to be restored? The tingle of a kiss?
    • Experience. Memories of significant events color the present. Your experiences have expanded your knowledge and widened your perspective. Personal history shapes a unique point of view. Where did you attend grade school? Where were you when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, or Hurricane Harvey hit? The journey from birth to now shapes your stories and makes them uniquely yours.
    • Senses. You have instincts, inherited characteristics, a gender, and a general state of health. You have experienced cold weather, sweltering days, sleepless nights, physical pain, aching muscles, and a blinding headache. Did you escape first love, embarrassment, the feeling of failure, or hear a bump in the night? You’ve been there—done that.
  • Thank you, Terry, for visiting today.

Keep reading for my thoughts about Double Dipped.

About Double Dipped

Double Dipped (One Scoop or Two)
Cozy Mystery Novella
Setting – Wisconsin
Part of: One Scoop or Two (50 books)
The Wild Rose Press, Inc (June 29, 2022)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 137 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09W8RLJ4X

Accepting second best is good for her career, but first-grade teacher, Retta Curt, delays signing up for the disappointment. Given two weeks to reconsider her contract, she retreats to Gram’s cottage on Moon Lake, the last place she felt contentment. But the cottage is derelict; Cousin Julie, distant; childhood beaux, Dean, bitter; and Sweet Picks, the family ice cream stand, in danger of folding. Magruder, a surly newcomer, is buying and then neglecting properties until nothing remains of the idyllic lakeside community she remembers. When vandals target Sweet Picks, Retta’s dreams to recapture her happy childhood collapse, and the return to Moon Lake becomes a decision worse than accepting her teaching contract. Star-crossed, can she save the family business and rediscover happiness, or is Retta destined for a second-best future?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Can you ever really go home again?

First-grade teacher, Retta Curt feels like her life is at a crossroads. There are some changes coming to the school where she teaches meaning her contract is now for a higher grade and she just isn’t sure if that is what she wants. She has just two weeks left to make her decision so on the spur of the moment she packs a bag and heads for Moon Lake. She has so many great memories of her time there with Gram and other friends and family.

When she arrives her heart just drops. The cottage is in bad shape, as is Sweet Picks, her family’s ice cream stand. So much more has changed as well. Family cottages are being bought up and turned into rental properties. The businesses are being bought too. A man named Magruder has big plans for the area turning it into a place Retta will no longer recognize.

Can she take the man on and try to return the charm to a place she loves so much or should she sign her contract and go home? She doesn’t have a lot of time to discover her bliss but she is going to use her time at Moon Lake to try to figure out how to get to her happy place.

Retta Curt is an excellent main character. She is dealing with real-life issues. She is easy to relate to and I found her very engaging. It is tough to go back and see people she hadn’t seen in years. There are emotions in play that have been brewing for years and like her, her friends have some challenges and sorrow in their lives. The author does a nice job of giving all the characters layers to peel away.

There was definitely something fishy going on at Moon Lake. Vandals have been targeting the ice cream stand and other places but there is something more. Retta is completely in the dark about what happened years ago but is quickly brought up to speed and works with her friends to solve the current crimes. The author portrayed the true complications of dealing with something huge in a small town where everyone knows each other and most of their business.

I loved the way the community supported Retta and her cousin Julie after so many things went wrong at Sweet Picks. It is something you used to see in a lot of small towns and it gave the story such a positive ending. It gave me the feelings I had growing up as a child when I played outside until the street lights came on and if I needed anything I could go to any house on the block.

Double Dipped is a fast read at only 137 pages but the characters developed nicely and the mystery was interesting. It is a sweet summer read that I found totally entertaining. I know this book is part of a compilation of books but I do hope we get to visit these characters again including a very lovable long-haired dachshund named Herman.


Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Terry Korth Fischer

Terry Korth Fischer writes short stories, memoirs, and mysteries. Her debut mysteryGone Astray, introduced Detective Rory Naysmith, a seasoned city cop relocated to small-town Winterset, Nebraska. The Rory Naysmith Mysteries continued with Gone Before, January 2022. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two guard cats. When not writing, she loves reading, gardening, and basking in sunshine. Yet, her heart often wanders to the country’s heartland, where she spent a memorable—ordinary but charmed—childhood. Learn more about Terry at her author website:

Author Links

  Website    Twitter   Facebook   Amazon Author Page   Goodreads   BLOG Website    BookBub Author
BookGems Author    Newsletter

Purchase Links –

AmazonB&NApple Books

Also by this Author

July 11 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 11 – Books Blog – SPOTLIGHT
July 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 13 – Novels Alive – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
July 14 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 15 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 19 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
July 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GUEST POST
July 22 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
July 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
July 25 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT
July 25 – ebook addicts – REVIEW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

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 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Guest Posts What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday – Special Guest – Leslie Budewitz – Author of Peppermint Barked: A Spice Shop Mystery #Review / #Giveaway @LeslieBudewitz

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am delighted to welcome Leslie back to Escape With Dollycas today!

A Spicy Christmas in Seattle’s Pike Place Market

by Leslie Budewitz

Delighted to beat the heat with you by pretending it’s Christmas and celebrating the launch of Peppermint Barked! This is my sixth Spice Shop mystery featuring Pepper Reece, owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market. I love writing and reading cozies, in part because of “the cozy covenant.” My interpretation: each book is a promise to introduce our readers to people they want to know in a place they’d like to visit, tempt them with delicious food, and show them something new about the world we live in, all wrapped in a solid mystery. (Thanks to my friend Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake and Jane Darrowfield mysteries for the original concept of the “cozy covenant.”)

In each book, I aim to fulfill that covenant, along with a pair of challenges I set myself. The first: How can I make this book better than the last? What skill do I want to focus on? What plot twist have I not used that I’d like to try?

For Assault and Pepper, the series opener, I wanted to “explore how a ‘life begins at 40′ gal rebuilds after her life falls apart, in the heart of a city I still love. Explore caring vs. over-protection.” Others: “Investigate a cold case.” “Kill twice and get away with it.” “Deepen the relationships.” “Family on her own terms.” “No murder.”

And this time? My books always touch on a woman’s search for identity. Not that men don’t sometimes struggle with a sense of themselves and their purpose, but it has always seemed like the true heroine’s journey. In Peppermint Barked, I flipped that script to focus on the male search for identity. That led directly to decisions and actions by three men close to Pepper, as well as a few new characters. The combination, I think, is a fun story with a serious edge, and good food!

What’s that second challenge? When I started writing the series, I picked up a book of Market ghost stories. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the stories are a fascinating part of Market history. One reason, I came to understand, is the physical layout. There’s a main, L-shaped cobbled street, Pike Place. An alley runs through it, ending abruptly and picking up again thirty feet lower, connected by a cobbled passage and a hidden staircase carved into a retaining wall. More than a dozen buildings cropped up over fifty-some years, distinct but connected, some with several levels. Walls were moved, passages closed off, and windows boarded up, creating opportunities for people to seemingly appear and disappear.

In Assault and Pepper, a very real character uses those hidden passages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading him to be wrongly accused of a crime, and later, to be at the right place just in time to help Pepper. How else, I wondered, could I use the idea of ghosts to add a layer of fun to the story, without actually adding ghosts themselves? Ghost peppers. Ghosting in relationships. Ghost nets. Ghost signs, those faded advertisements painted on old buildings that sometimes reappear when an adjacent building comes down. There may, or may not, be a ghost in one book—no spoilers! And often, the ghosts of our own pasts, our choices, our regrets.

I hope you’ll make the trip with me to Pike Place Market, a place where the past, present, and future are all very real.

Thank you Leslie so much for visiting today!

Now keep reading for my thoughts about Peppermint Barked.

Peppermint Barked: A Spice Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Washington
Seventh Street Books (July 19, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 236 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1645060543
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1645060543
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JPHR9CH

A Dickens of a Christmas turns deadly…

As the holiday season lights up Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece’s beloved Spice Shop is brimming with cinnamon, nutmeg, and shoppers eager to stuff their stockings. Add to the mix a tasty staff competition—a peppermint bark-off—along with Victorian costumes for this year’s Dickensian Christmas theme, and Pepper almost forgets to be nervous about meeting her fisherman boyfriend’s brother for the first time.

But when a young woman working in her friend Vinny’s wine shop is brutally assaulted, costumed revelers and holiday cheer are the last things on Pepper’s mind. Who would want to hurt Beth? Or were they looking for Vinny instead?

The vicious attack upsets everyone at Pike Place, but none more than Pepper’s own employee, Matt Kemp. At first, Pepper is baffled by his reaction, but his clandestine connection to Beth could hold the key to the assailant’s motive. Or perhaps it’s Vinny’s ex-wife who knows more than she’s letting on . . . and what about the mysterious top-hatted man with whom Pepper saw Beth arguing that morning?

As the secrets of the market come to light, long-held grudges, family ties, and hidden plans only further obscure the truth. Is it a ghost of the past rattling its chains or a contemporary Scrooge with more earthly motives? As Pepper chases down a killer, someone is chasing her, and in the end, the storied market itself may hold the final, deadly clue.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Pike Place Market in Seattle including Pepper Reece’s Spice Shop is all geared up for the holiday season. The theme this year is a Dickensian Christmas and many are donning Victorian costumes to give some authenticity to the season.

It should have been a fabulous time at the market but then a woman working for Pepper’s friend Vinny is attacked and assaulted. Beth is taken to the hospital and Matt Kemp who works at The Spice Shop with Pepper is taking the attack seriously hard. Not sure about any relationship the two may have Pepper thinks Matt may know why the young woman was attacked. Pepper is also interested in finding a man she witnesses arguing with Beth.

Pepper is uncovering things that don’t seem to meld together but she must be on to something because someone has started tailing her wherever she goes. Can she catch the killer before they catch her? It could be a real Bah! Humbug! Holiday if she doesn’t.

The cover of this book is gorgeous and will put everyone in the holiday mood and adding peppermint bark to their holiday treats.

Pepper Reece is a real Spice Queen, move over Maneet Chauhan. She is a great amateur sleuth as well. Her client list is growing and the holidays are sure to keep her and her employees very busy. I love that Ms. Budewitz has surrounded her protagonist with a fantastic group of employees and friends who care about each other like a great big family. Even the local law enforcement, including Pepper’s ex and detectives Spencer and Tracy, often make themselves right at home unless they are chasing down clues, and leads and trying to get Pepper to leave the investigation to them. Yeah, that is not happening. All the recurring characters are cleverly crafted and continue to grow over the course of the book/series.

This book is really a hands-on book for cozy mystery lovers. There are a lot of suspects and theories as to why Beth was attacked. Subsequent events will have you wondering if she was the real target. I worked hard to put the clues together in the right way only to have to back up and try again. I really enjoy a book that allows the reader to unwind a very complicated mystery. This story is so well plotted. I found myself highlighting what I thought were important passages. All my efforts were for naught though, There were some nice twists that tangled up my guesses and I was not even close when all was revealed, but I blame it on the pace which really sped up the closer we got to the end. Pages were really flying on my Kindle.

I really appreciate the way the author sets a scene and describes everything whether it be the food, the Spice Shop, the Market, and everything in between. I felt like I could see everything so clearly.

One little thing that pulled me up short while reading was that a group of characters had my last name. That was totally cool!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series, the Spice Shop mysteries set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, set in NW Montana, where she lives. As Alicia Beckman, she writes moody suspense, beginning with Bitterroot Lake in April 2021 and continuing with Blind Faith in October 2022. A three-time Agatha-Award winner, she is a board member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Find her online at and on Facebook at

Also by this Author

Leslie is giving away 1 Print Copy!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End on August 3, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For The Entry Form



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


Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Debra H. Goldstein – Author of Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein

It is my delight to welcome Debra to Escape With Dollycas today!!

Storytelling, the Ides of March, and Reality TV
by Debra H. Goldstein

When I was in high school and read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, it sparked an interest in the Ides of March. Originally a day to settle debts, it became a day or notoriety because of it being the date Julius Caesar was killed. Its significance is that it is believed to have changed the fate of the Romans.

As a writer of mysteries, I often think about how lives and plot lines change when there is a murder.

There is the act and whodunit. Based upon the Shakespeare play and movies, I always thought it was Brutus, but (accordingly to Wikipedia), at least sixty senators were party to the conspiracy and act of stabbing Julius Caesar to death. They hoped to overturn his policies, but they didn’t succeed. Instead, the Roman empire imploded.

In my books, murder is never random. It ties to a social issue, conflict between people, or a means to an end. As I create the details of the murder, I embrace its importance in setting the tone and establishing the movement of the story.

The murder also is a catalyst for how the characters behave. Some hide from its brutality, others dive into the why behind the crime, and of course, the protagonist tries to find out who did the dastardly deed and what the character’s motivation was. In the moment, there are characters who go into shock at the loss, individuals who have unkind things to say about the dead body, and those who observe the details for what’s out of place and find their minds filled with questions.

Some of the reactions are genuine, some fake, but all add to the characterization and move the plot along. Reality TV works the same way. For being unscripted, it has scenes that are well thought out in advance or edited to paint individuals as heroes or villains. In Five Belles Too Many, five finalists, including protagonist Sarah Blair’s mother, Maybelle, are vying for the perfect Southern wedding. The competition is being filmed for a New York television show. While there is spontaneity, there also are many pre-planned moments.

For example, there is a sequence where a tug of war will take place in a water filled land crater or mud bowl. Rather than wearing jeans, the female characters are dressed as hoop skirted Southern belles. The director encourages them to have certain reactions when they see the mud. Their speech, mannerisms, and even how each walks is semi-scripted, but when a character goes off script, it changes the outcome of the moment. From every character’s specific reaction, we learn new things about all of them, and we have a stimulus for a plot shift.

Whether you are learning secrets from behind the scenes of a television show or how Caesar died, you as a reader are being set up for both your own mood shift and that of each character. So, now that you know the way Caesar died, how do you think Cleopatra reacted? How would you write her next chapter-the one that began the day after the Ides of March?

Thank you, Debra, for visiting today!

Now keep reading for my thoughts about Five Belles Too Many.


About Five Belles Too Many

Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in the Series
Setting – Alabama
Kensington Cozies (June 28, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496732235
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496732231
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09HRCV4TN

When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . .

Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than her Siamese cat RahRah. Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, have been chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality show—and guess who has to be chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers have decided to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant/bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark.

But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane—still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on, but to protect their mother and the other contestants, Sarah vows to find the true killer before someone else gets eliminated . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sarah’s mother, Maybelle is a gem handled in small doses. In this fifth installment of the Sarah Blair Mystery Series, Maybelle and her friend George will be participants in a reality television show to win the “perfect” wedding and honeymoon of their dreams. They are the eldest of the five competing couples but they still need a chaperone and Sarah has been chosen for that task. To make matters worse, the crew, the contestants, and the chaperones have been booked to stay at Jane Clark’s B&B meaning Sarah will be spending a lot of time with her nemesis.

The reality show takes a devastating turn when Jane is found kneeling next to the dead body of the show’s director, her hands covered in blood. While Sarah does not trust Jane farther than she can throw her she doesn’t believe she is a murderer. The show becomes somewhat of a free for all as the producers try to keep filming. Sarah uses that to her advantage as she tries to protect everyone and catch the real killer before someone else gets voted off the island permanently, I mean gets killed.

Again Ms. Goldstein has packed these pages with a story that grabs a hold and hangs on tight.

Her characters and their continued development is so strong. Sarah seems to be almost in constant motion except for the little bit of time she takes to give her Siamese cat RahRah and her rescue dog, Fluffy a little bit of love. Her boss, Harlan has a big legal case coming up so he needs her in the office. She wants to help out at the restaurants she owns with her sister too. But the reality show and her job of chaperoning her mother is much more time-consuming than she could even imagine and that was before the murder happened. Maybelle is high maintenance but it seems George knows how to take care of her. They do make a cute couple. I was thrilled to see Emily, Marcus, and Southwinds get the recognition they deserved and that restaurant was used much more than originally contracted. Harlan also steps in to help anywhere he can and Cliff is back as the show’s general contractor. All these characters feel so genuine and their interactions and dialogues read very true to life.

We meet several new characters in the contestants and crew of the reality show. All these new characters are cleverly crafted. Many are pretty sketchy or hiding something which is great for a reality show. Drama drives up those ratings, which is why some of the drama is totally scripted but I really loved when anyone went off-script.

The plot was very interesting and not just because of the murder mysteries. The behind-the-scenes look at a reality show was entertaining with the crazy competitions and the decisions made that weren’t usually on the up and up. The method of death was unexpected but I was surprised because I had recently seen it used on a television show. I think the author implemented it better than the tv show did because I was kept guessing right up until the very end. Ms. Goldstein did an excellent job of twisting things up so the reveal was very dramatic.

After the case was wrapped up there was a very heartwarming ending.

Every trip to Alabama to visit Sarah, her family, and her friends has been a Perfect Escape and all seem to end too soon. As soon as I turn the final page I can’t wait to return. So while I know Six _________ Too Many will probably not be released for a year, this girl can hope. Thank you, Deborah J. Goldstein. Five Belles Too Many was a delightfully entertaining story that I totally enjoyed.

To get maximum enjoyment I do recommend reading this series in order but the author has written this story to stand on its own.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Debra H. Goldstein

Many, Four Cuts Too Many, Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, and One Taste Too Many). Her novels and short stories received an IPPY award and have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters. Find out more about Debra at

Author Links

Website    Blog    Facebook    Linked In

Twitter @DebraHGoldstein    GoodReads   BookBub

Purchase Links –

Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackNookB&N

Great Escapes Praise for Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein

I enjoyed Five Belles Too Many. Sarah Blair is one of those really nice, shy people that takes a bit to warm up to you. Sarah makes an excellent sleuth as people talk to her. Ms. Goldstein has a way of sucking you into the Wheaton community.
~Baroness’ Book Trove

FIVE BELLES TOO MANY is a fun look at reality TV, Southern manners, and murder. A colorful cast of characters combined with an intricately plotted story and an ending full of surprises make for a delightful mystery.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

Full of a wide range of characters we get a mystery that will keep you guessing as they try to figure it out in time making for quite the fun read. A great choice for fans of cozies. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

I love this cozy mystery series for its genuine characters and relationships. Who wouldn’t want to be at Sarah’s side as she investigates a murder and hurdles family, friend and romantic relationship issues? Five Belles Too Many is highly recommended to both cozy mystery and reality television fans. 5 stars and a favorite!
~Diane Reviews Books

Skillful writing, great plot, and recipes too! Whether you’re a fan of reality tv or not, you will be a fan of FIVE BELLS TOO MANY
~Lisa K’s Book Review

This is, in a sense, a very cerebral series, so it’s a good read for those who like their sleuths to reason through the clues to eventually unmask the killer.
~Mysteries with Character

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 17 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW
June 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 19 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
June 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 21 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 21 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 22 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
June 22 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
June 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
June 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 25 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 26 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
June 27 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
June 28 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 28 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT
June 29 – My Journey Back – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE  
June 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GUEST POST
June 30 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT
June 30 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

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 Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts

Death at Fair Havens by Maria Mankin & Maren C. Tirabassi #CharacterGuestPost / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @marenandmankin

Death at Fair Havens
by Maria Mankin & Maren C. Tirabassi

About Death at Fair Havens

Death at Fair Havens
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Brain Mill Press (April 26, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 318 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 194855965X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1948559652
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09NCJDRCS

Wanda Duff is an unconventional New England clergywoman, addicted to chicken wings, high-octane ice cream, and saying yes to anyone in need of a prayer, even the folks her town might think don’t deserve one.

When parishioner Niels Pond dies unexpectedly at the Fair Havens assisted living facility, Wanda’s duty to minister to his family is beset by her suspicions about the circumstances of his abrupt passing. Wanda finds an unexpected co-detective in high school vice principal Prudence Rye, who fled town on graduation night a decade ago and returned only recently.

Rye puts her job on the line to investigate the mourning Ponds with the surprisingly edgy Wanda. As they expose difficult family truths and uncover a dangerous conspiracy operating out of Fair Havens, Rye and Wanda discover curiosity has an unanticipated cost.

Comfortably gossipy, with a fresh take on the characters and ethos cozy mystery fans will love, Maria Mankin and Maren C. Tirabassi’s Death at Fair Havens launches a series that celebrates intergenerational women’s friendship and the power of inclusion, curiosity, and love.

“Here’s small town life portrayed with humor and affection, peopled with quirky characters you’ll care about.”
—James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards

A Visit from Pastor Wanda Duff

It’s June already, if you can believe it! There are months when time drags, but this spring flew by, in no small part due to the investigation of a murder – a first for Rye and for me. Rye’s the vice principal over at Stoneridge High School, you know, and I’m Wanda Duff, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ.

As a minister, I’ve seen more than my fair share of death, but I’ve never investigated one before – not even a few years ago, when I had my suspicions – well, that’s a story for another day. It might not have happened this time without Rye. She’s fearless, that one. Between the two of us, we wouldn’t let this death at Fair Havens Assisted Living Facility go, even if everyone, including law enforcement, thought it was “natural causes.”

I won’t spoil the surprises for you, although I suppose you know now that I survived. Rye and I may or may not have a future as sleuths, but we have a future. And we discovered the strangest thing … solving a mystery needs to be “crowd-sourced,’ and we have a pretty wonderful “crowd.” Unusual, yes. But this sunny June day I want to introduce you to our “team” and give a pat on the back to the friends who had our backs.

Dear Jenny, of course, wasn’t about to let her Parkinson’s keep her from being my eyes and ears on the ground inside Fair Havens. She’s a character, always ready with a new Norwegian joke – a pleasure of our shared heritage – and in the courage department she’s a Viking. I’m not sure I’d have been as brave in her vulnerable position, but she got the job done.

Then there’s Hardy, Rye’s father, the former sheriff. I thought he would oppose our investigation and tell us to leave it to the professionals (like Sheriff Ryan, my ex-boyfriend, did) but Hardy believed we were capable of making the call for ourselves. He even gave me a summer reading list of self-defense books and investigation procedures, so the next malefactors we meet had better look out. Rye says I should think twice before Hardy teaches me any of his “techniques.” She does have a lifetime of his unusual teaching methods to back her up!

And there’s Tony, my best friend, and world-class gossiper, who kept us in the loop. He jumps between his roles as the church musician, high school adjunct music staff, and gig musician, so he knows everything about everybody. His best gift? He doesn’t mind when I need to talk (although he likes to spoil our special moments by saying it’s better than hearing me sing!).

Then there’s Lisa, the church admin and her three-year-old daughter Lily, who deserve full honors; Andy Soucek, Rye’s childhood best friend she hadn’t seen in ten years, who gave us grace and courage; Luke Fairchild, a colleague who’s far too attractive for his role as funeral director; and Pieter Pond, blond and handsome and deaf, with hands so skilled you don’t need to Sign to understand him.

A few months ago, if you had told me a woman I barely knew from yoga class and a few fuzzy New Year’s Eve parties would be one of the people I most rely on, trust, and care for, I’m not sure I would have believed you. How much could Prudence Rye (do not call her Prudence or Pru or Priddy and hope to survive) and I have in common? Even being single is different two decades (and divorces) apart!

But Rye’s the best. Every once in a while, you get lucky and find a person who’s easy like Sunday mornings (joke’s on her, of course, because Sunday mornings are never easy in my line of work!). I didn’t realize how much I missed having someone who believed in me without question, and who didn’t need me to be the rock all the time. If I could go back in time to prevent this death, I would. No question. But since time travel is impossible, I can only sit here in the early summer sun and be grateful that we faced down this challenge side by side. I, for one, am ready for another. She says, “no way” … but I can be persuasive.

Thank you for visiting Wanda!

About the Authors

After teaching and working in early education for a decade, Maria Mankin has published six books with Pilgrim Press and has contributed to several anthologies. She is also a co-author of Circ, a mystery set in Skegness England, published by Pigeon Park Press, and Pitching Our Tents: Poetry of Hospitality. She is a regular contributor to Living Psalms, a collection in which the Psalms are reinterpreted in poetry and art as a reflection of God’s work of justice and compassion. She is currently working on a book of poetry and the third novel in the Rev and Rye Cozy Mysteries.

After trouping the country in the 70s as assistant manager of theatrical tours for choreographer Agnes de Mille, The National Theatre of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Black Broadway production of ‘Guys and Dolls,’ Maren Tirabassi changed careers, to the surprise of everyone, to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and later Harvard Divinity School. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, she served as a bi-vocational pastor to seven churches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire while developing her writing career. Maren is the author of twenty-two books, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the majority published by The Pilgrim Press.

A former Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH, and LAMDA Prize nominee for Transgendering Faith, Identity, Sexuality and Spirituality she currently facilitates programs for the NH Humanities Council with New Americans and people with cognitive difference and leads poetry and memoir workshops in prisons, recovery groups, churches and synagogues, hospice and survivor groups. She blogs at

With frequent writing collaborator, Maria Mankin, she is currently editing Death in the Woods, the sequel to Death at Fair Havens, as well as plotting the third novel.

Author Links

Website    Facebook     Twitter

Purchase Links

Brian Mill Press – Powell’s – Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Indigo 

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 21 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
June 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy -AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 22 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER GUEST POST  
June 23 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 24 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
June 24 – Readeropolis – GUEST POST
June 25 – Baroness Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 26 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT  
June 26 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 27 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
June 27 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 28 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 29 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST
June 30 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
June 30 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?
Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts

Special Guest Mary Anna Evans – Author of The Physicists’ Daughter: A Novel #GuestPost / #Giveaway @maryannaevans @PPPress

The Physicists’ Daughter: A Novel
by Mary Anna Evans

About The Physicists’ Daughter

The Physicists’ Daughter: A Novel
Historical Fiction
Poisoned Pen Press (June 7, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1464215553
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1464215551
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09TGB4BVK

The Nazis are no match for the physicists’ daughter.

New Orleans, 1944

Sabotage. That’s the word on factory worker Justine Byrne’s mind as she is repeatedly called to weld machine parts that keep failing with no clear cause. Could someone inside the secretive Carbon Division be deliberately undermining the factory’s war efforts? Raised by her late parents to think logically, she also can’t help wondering just what the oddly shaped carbon gadgets she assembles day after day have to do with the boats the factory builds…

When a crane inexplicably crashes to the factory floor, leaving a woman dead, Justine can no longer ignore her nagging fear that German spies are at work within the building, trying to put the factory and its workers out of commission. Unable to trust anyone—not the charming men vying for her attention, not her unpleasant boss, and not even the women who work beside her—Justine draws on the legacy of her unconventional upbringing to keep her division running and protect her coworkers, her country, and herself from a war that is suddenly very close to home.

Great Escapes Praise for The Physicists’ Daughter: A Novel
by Mary Anna Evans

Sabotage, espionage, and lots of science combine to make THE PHYSICISTS’ DAUGHTER an enthralling novel filled with cunning characters, growing friendships, and cloak and dagger adventure.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

The Physicists’ Daughter delivers a wartime thriller from a fresh perspective—espionage on the home front.
~Novels Alive

The Physicist’s Daughter feels like a very scientific mystery. The narrative is very analytical, detailed, and thorough. I give the author kudos for her portrayal of women’s roles at home during this fascinating time period.
~Mysteries with Character

It is my pleasure to welcome Mary Anna Evans
to Escape With Dollycas today!

Getting Comfortable in the 1940s with The Physicists’ Daughter


I’ve been writing mysteries about archaeologist Faye Longchamp for twenty years, so I’ve done a lot of digging around in history. To get an idea for the next book, I’d decide on a setting, then I’d read about its history until I came up with something cool for her to dig up. (Or for something cool for her to find at a library, since archaeologists “dig” there, too.)

To write Justine Byrne’s story in The Physicists’ Daughter, I did much the same thing. During a visit to New Orleans, I toured The National WWII Museum and was fascinated with the importance of the war work that was done right there in a city that was just a hundred miles from where I grew up. How could I not have known that the famous boats that carried troops ashore on D-Day—the duckbilled boats that we’ve all seen in photos and newsreels—were built in New Orleans? The same factories built PT boats like the one John F. Kennedy commanded. They built airplanes and much, much more.

And, because D-Day came so late in the war, I realized that many of the people building those world-saving war machines would have been women. By 1944, women all over the country were doing jobs that had always been reserved for men, and they were doing them well. When I imagined Justine Byrne, twenty-one years old and alone in the world, using the welding skills that her physicist parents taught her to fight back at the Nazis, I knew I had my story.

But people are more than their jobs. I needed to be able to imagine Justine’s world as it was in 1944. Fortunately, there are books, libraries, and the internet in this world. I actually already owned a critical book, the Federal Writers’ Project’s New Orleans City Guide, published in 1938. It was intended for travelers planning a vacation to New Orleans, so it gave me enough information on night clubs for me to invent my fictional TickTock Club, where Justine breaks up a bar fight with her shoe. It also gave me a sense of the city’s waterfront in those days, when it was much more of a working port than a tourist destination.

A Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas helped me choose the neighborhood where her rooming house would be, and it helped me plan how she would get around, since a woman earning her salary at that time wouldn’t have been able to afford a car. An article on historic preservation in New Orleans told me that her neighborhood would have been posh in the 1800s but pretty grimy in the 1940s. An old newspaper article told me about the air raid drills the city experienced during the war.

And the war pervaded everything in those days. Scrap metal was too valuable to waste, and food was rationed, but people are creative. I found a fabulous article on that included recipes designed to use what people tended to have in their pantries. Sugar was rationed, but people will always want treats to keep their hopes up, so one of those recipes was for a chocolate cake sweetened with corn syrup. It was shelf-stable, which meant that many cooks had it on hand for times when they couldn’t get sugar. I like to imagine people celebrating their birthdays with that chocolate cake, laughing and smiling despite the hard times.

To make Justine’s world seem real, I learned about the jitterbug and about victory roll hairstyles. I learned about the peep-toed shoes that Justine used to stop that fight. I learned about the landscape around the real-life manufacturing plant where she worked, a facility where NASA now builds rockets. I looked at a 1940 yearbook for Tulane and at historic maps for Sophie Newcomb College. I read about the history of New Orleans’ famous streetcar lines.

And I learned about the history of science, especially the history of women in science. Justine saves the factory where she works, she saves her friends, and it is entirely possible that she salvages victory in a world war, because she understands physics. She understands how things work. Women were often prevented from learning science in those days, so the science she learned from her parents sets her apart. It makes her who she is. Take a trip to mid-twentieth-century New Orleans with Justine and see how she uses knowledge, facts, and most of all, science to save the day.

Thank you Mary Anna for visiting today!

More About Mary Anna Evans

Mary Anna Evans is the author of The Physicists’ Daughter, the first in her series of WWII-era historical suspense novels featuring Rosie-the-Riveter-turned-codebreaker Justine Byrne. Her thirteen Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries have received recognition including the Benjamin Franklin Award, a Will Rogers Medallion Award Gold Medal, the Oklahoma Book Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. She is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing, including mystery and suspense writing. Her work has appeared in publications including Plots with Guns, The Atlantic, Florida Heat Wave, Dallas Morning News, and The Louisville Review. Her scholarship on crime fiction, which centers on Agatha Christie’s evolving approach over her long career to the ways women experienced justice in the twentieth century, has appeared in the Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie (coming September 22, 2022), which she co-edited, and in Clues: A Journal of Detection. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Camden, and she is a licensed Professional Engineer. She is at work on the second Justine Byrne novel, The Physicists’ Enigma.

Author Links

Website    Twitter: @maryannaevansFacebook    Instagram    BookBub    Goodreads 

Purchase Links

Bookshop   IndieBound    Barnes and Noble    Amazon      Booksamillion     Nook     Kindle     Kobo
Also by Mary Anna Evans

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 2 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 3 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
June 4 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
June 5 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 7 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 8 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST
June 8 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
June 9 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
June 9 – Novels Alive – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Jemima Pett, Author – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
June 12 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 13 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 14 – fundinmental – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
June 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in 2021 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders: A Cozy Mystery Anthology – Pickled to Death by Gayle Leeson #Review #CharacterGuestPost #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders: A Cozy Mystery Anthology
by Hillary Avis, Benedict Brown, Catherine Coles, Paula Darnell, Connie B. Dowell, Ellen Jacobson, Joann Keder, Patti Larsen, Cate Lawley, Gayle Leeson, Daisy Linh, Rimmy London, R.B. Marshall, Megan Mayfair, Wendy Meadows, Phillipa Nefri Clark, Michele Pariza Wacek, Erin Scoggins, Cathy Tully, Victoria LK Williams and Carly Winter

About Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders

Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders: A Cozy Mystery Anthology
Aye Alba Publishing (June 21, 2022)
Number of Pages ~1600
Digital B09K9NN64X

Poisonous picnics, burgled barbeques, deadly deckchairs… and midsummer mayhem!

From a brilliant bunch of amazing authors, including multiple prizewinners and USA Today best sellers, comes this wonderful collection of 21 summer-themed cozy mysteries.

Featuring peril at the pool, blood on the beach, and felony at the festival, these fabulous stories—21 brand new and exclusive tales—will keep you entertained until long after the sun has set.

With stories from Hillary Avis, Benedict Brown, Catherine Coles, Paula Darnell, Connie B. Dowell, Ellen Jacobson, Joann Keder, Patti Larsen, Cate Lawley, Gayle Leeson, Daisy Linh, Rimmy London, R.B. Marshall, Megan Mayfair, Wendy Meadows, Phillipa Nefri Clark, Michele Pariza Wacek, Erin Scoggins, Cathy Tully, Victoria LK Williams and Carly Winter, you’ll surely find some of your favourite authors and discover some great new writers within the ~1600 pages of this set.

This collection will only be available for a limited time so don’t miss out – grab yourself a bargain today!

Today I am focusing on Pickled to Death by Gayle Leeson.

The fair would have been a lot more fun had Aunt Bess not been accused of murder – – and if the streaker hadn’t been such a disappointment.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Aunt Bess had decided to oust the local pickle queen, Mabel Hobbs, by entering her own jar of pickles at the fair but while a streaker distracts everyone someone takes out the queen permanently using a jar of her own pickles. A witness says she saw Aunt Bess taking aim with the jar just before she turned away but no one believes Aunt Bess could kill anyone. But without evidence to prove otherwise, Aunt Bess is in the hot seat. Jackie is doing her best to protect her grandmother while Amy tries to find the real killer. Her first order of business – find that streaker!

This was a fun read. I really enjoy checking in with the gang at the Down South Cafe. I was pleasantly surprised that even in this shorter format so many members of the cast were able to be included. While Amy and her cousin Jackie are the stars, Homer with his daily heroes continues to be my favorite. The fair brings a blast from Amy’s mom’s past to town and that upset Amy a bunch. It gives readers a little snippet of Amy and her mom’s history and how it had affected their lives moving forward.

Mabel Hobbs was a woman with a plan and that plan may have been what had gotten her killed. There are some clear suspects besides Aunt Bess and a corkscrew twist adds even more. Ms. Leeson does an excellent job of giving her readers an interesting mystery with enough meat to sink our teeth into with a very exciting ending. That is not easy to do in less than 100 pages. The streaker was a nice touch too, but now that song is in my head. “Boogity Boogity!!!”

Pickled to Death was a Perfect little mini Escape!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Now a Special Treat!

By Gayle Leeson


Don’t be intimidated because I’m royalty. I don’t think my lineage sets me on a pedestal. Being a cat does that.

I live with Amy Flowers, who owns the Down South Café. Amy is a sweet girl, and I like her okay. She makes sure I get all the attention I want and plenty to eat and drink. But she’s not my favorite. My favorite human in the world is Amy’s mother, Jenna. But when Jenna’s mom died, Jenna moved into the house on the hill above Amy’s place to live with her aunt. Since Aunt Bess is allergic to cats—huge eye roll here because really…am I right?—I had to stay here at Amy’s house. I guess the aunt was too old to rehome because, honestly, I don’t know who else would have her at this point. She’s quite the handful. At least, Jenna is close by, and I get to see her all the time.

Amy has been dating a great guy lately, and I like him a lot. His name is Ryan, and he’s a police officer. Whenever he comes to visit, I hop onto his lap. It’s funny because it makes Amy a little jealous because she wishes I liked her that much. Between you and me, that’s one of the reasons I do it. Also, he has strong, muscular thighs. I knead and knead and knead, and then I curl up into a ball and doze. Purrfection.

I enjoy lying on the windowsill, lying on the chair by the living room window, lying on the kitchen chair that’s closest to the wall, and lying on my bed—although I spend the least amount of time there. I’d rather be up a little higher, especially when I want to avoid pats and licks and doggie breath, if you know what I mean. I like Rory, the terrier, okay. Or, at least, I do now. When he was a puppy, I referred to him as Rory, the terror. In fact, I thought that’s what the humans were saying when someone would ask what type of dog he was. But I came to realize they were saying terrier, and he’s grown up to the point where he’s tolerable. And he’s good for Amy. She needs someone willing to be picked up and cuddled at her whim—that’s not me.

Admittedly, though, I’ve been staying a little closer to her lately. There has been some trouble involving her cousin, Jackie. Jackie is the granddaughter of Aunt Bess—who I’ve already told you about. I’m not terribly keen on Jackie and her boyfriend, Roger, but I’d allow them to feed me if Amy happened to be out of town and Jenna wasn’t available. Amy loves them, though, especially Jackie. So, since Amy has been worried and sad about whatever is going on with Jackie, I’ve been staying close in case Amy needs me. She’s a good kid, and I appreciate her more than I let on. I have to say, though, I hope this ordeal gets put behind us soon. A girl needs her beauty rest, especially when that girl is a princess.

About Gayle Leeson 

Gayle Leeson is an author living in Virginia with a beautiful family and quite a few pets. She also writes–or has written–as Gayle Trent, Amanda Lee, and G. Leeson. As Gayle Trent, she writes the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, she wrote the Embroidery Mystery series. As Gayle Leeson, she writes the Down South Cafe Mystery series and the Ghostly Fashionista mystery series. And as G. Leeson, she is writing the Literatia mystery series. Website

Release Date – June 21, 2022

Also by Gayle Leeson

Writing as Gayle Trent

Writing as Amanda Lee

Just click on covers for more book information or to order from Amazon.

Check out stories from the rest of these authors!

About Ellen Jacobson

Ellen Jacobson is a writer, cat lover & obsessed with chocolate. She writes cozy mysteries and romantic comedies including the Mollie McGhie Mysteries and the Smitten with Travel Rom-Coms.

You can find out more on her website (, sign up for her newsletter (

About Patti Larsen

I’m a multiple award-winning writer with a passion for the voices in my head. With many (many!) titles across many (many!) genres, all in happy publication, there’s no end in sight…

That being said, I’m short (permanent), happy (I have the best life ever) and blonde (forever and ever). I love to talk one on one about the deepest topics and can’t seem to stop seeing the big picture. I happily live on Prince Edward Island, Canada, home to Anne of Green Gables and the most beautiful red beaches in the world, with my multiple cats, pug overlord and lady and Gypsy Vanner gelding, Fynn.

About R.B. Marshall

Like my amateur sleuth, Izzy, I’m a dressage-riding computer geek who loves coffee – but there the similarity ends. She is far smarter than me, and a lot younger! I hope you’ll join me in discovering where her curiosity leads to next…

Pretty much all my books are set in my native Scotland, and my mystery stories are no exception. You’ll meet colourful characters solving perplexing puzzles in the most glorious landscape imaginable. Throw in a castle or two, the occasional royal, and maybe even a delicious cake shop, and you’ll have the recipe for my new series.

I also write fantasy and clean romance/women’s fiction, as Roz Marshall:

and Historical Romance telling the story of Mary Queen of Scots, as Belle McInnes:

About Hillary Avis

Hillary Avis writes cozy mysteries about smart women who persist until they uncover the truth—about themselves, about their communities, and of course about any unsolved murders.

She grew up in a small town on the west coast, went to college in a small town on the east coast, and now lives in beautiful Eugene, Oregon. She has two charming children, three fluffy dogs, and two practically perfect felines named Mystery and Intrigue. She also has too many chickens and one very patient husband.

When Hillary’s not reading, writing, or editing, she bakes bread, makes pottery, drinks coffee, and streams The Great British Bake-Off, but not all at the same time.

About Cate Lawley

Cate Lawley writes humorous, action-filled mysteries that frequently contain a paranormal twist.

When Cate’s not tapping away at her keyboard or in deep contemplation of her next fanciful writing project, she’s sweeping up hairy dust bunnies and watching British mysteries.

Cate is from Austin, Texas (where many of her stories take place) but has recently migrated north to Boise, Idaho, where soup season (her favorite time of year) lasts more than two weeks.

She’s worked as an attorney, a dog trainer, and in various other positions, but writer is the hands-down winner. She’s thankful readers keep reading, so she can keep writing!

Paranormal cozy mystery series:

Vegan Vamp Mysteries

Night Shift Witch Mysteries

Death Retired Mysteries

Cursed Candy Mysteries

Cozy mystery series:

Fairmont Finds Canine Cozy Mysteries

Cate’s sweet romance series:

Love Ever After

Lucky Magic

For bonus materials and updates, visit her website to join her mailing list:

About Rimmy London

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Special Guest Vanessa Westermann Author of Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery)
by Vanessa Westermann

I am delighted to welcome Vanessa Westermann to Escape With Dollycas today!

On Writing Strong Heroines
Vanessa Westermann

When readers meet Charley Scott in Cover Art, she’s just taken the biggest risk of her life. On the verge of giving up on her art, she quit her marketing job to open a summer pop-up gallery in Canada’s cottage country. But when a man is found dead by chocolate, she has to uncover the killer’s identity before murder spreads its poison through the lakeside village…

My writing process has always been character-based. I’ll know who I want to write about before I know what adventures they’ll have. However, for Cover Art, my character development was more intentional than it had been before.

I started my writing career as a pantser, not a plotter, but over the years I have come to love and appreciate a good outline. In fact, because I teach creative writing, I find that, through the lesson prep and class discussions, I’m constantly learning new ways to improve my own craft.

While planning Cover Art, I tried and loved James N. Frey’s method for character development, described in his book How to Write a D*** Good Mystery. Everybody’s imagination works differently — a resource one writer finds useful may not work for another. Frey’s technique requires a fair amount of pre-writing, but his approach was a more efficient version of what I was already doing and it just clicked.

Based on the qualities of mythic heroes, Frey’s approach uses brainstorming and journaling techniques to create a hero/detective who has a ruling passion and a psychology that develops from her/his background and physiology. His method prompted me to explore my character’s backstory in much more detail than I normally would have, and still gave my imagination free rein.

I chose to make my amateur sleuth a struggling artist who is running a pop-up gallery because both art and mysteries are about perspective. To understand an artwork, you have to pull it apart and figure out how the pieces fit together to make a whole, the same way you do when solving a mystery. When we look at a painting, we’re trying to uncover the artist’s truth. When a sleuth gathers clues, she is trying to uncover the criminal’s truth. All it takes is a shift in perspective, to empathize with a murderer, to understand the motives, the mistakes, that lead someone to take another person’s life.

Charley Scott’s ruling passion is that she wants to be able to earn a living from her art. She has a keen sense of observation and is very perceptive. Her paintings look like pulp fiction covers, featuring female heroines and the everyday acts of kindness and courage that so often go unnoticed.

Charley has courage. She will act in the face of danger to bring a murderer to justice and will venture into the darkness, despite her fear of the dark. I couldn’t resist giving a character, who values her sense of sight so much, nyctophobia. Writers are cruel, aren’t they?

Like most amateur sleuths, Charley is loyal to old friends and lost causes. She’s quick to help those in need and happy to reconnect with her childhood friend, Kayla, when she joins the exhibit.

I tried to weave a sense of yearning and wish fulfillment through the story. Charley and her sister Meghan both inherited the 1950s cottage, with the gabled roof, red shutters, and lake view. But Meghan is the one who has been able to build a life in Oakcrest, as the editor of the local newspaper. Charley desperately wants to call it home, too. All of her best memories are there.

In the heart of the Kawartha countryside, the little village nestles on the shores of Blue Heron Lake, at a crossroads between barns and laneways, ploughed fields, and sugar bush. Oakcrest has the pace of a country village, but the quaint specialty shops and vibrant arts community of a city. Only a two-hour drive from Toronto, the waterfront cottages, Adirondack chairs, and boats cruising by attract weekenders to the peaceful getaway. The constant influx of visitors—arriving with the black flies and staying until the first red leaves fall from the trees—provide locals with fertile ground for gossip.

To top it off, Oakcrest has an artisan chocolate shop, run by a handsome chocolatier. Charley is a self-confessed chocoholic. She believes a car trip isn’t complete without a bag of Hershey’s Kisses, and her chocolate Labrador retriever is called Cocoa. Need I say more?

When Kayla’s husband is found dead, the result of eating boutique chocolates, the homicide investigation threatens to make Charley’s pop-up gallery a failure before it even begins.

In order to prove Kayla’s innocence and save the gallery, it’s up to Charley to see past the obvious and find the killer…

I enjoy every minute I get to spend in Charley’s company, and I hope readers will too!

Thank you Vanessa for visiting today!

Now keep reading for my thoughts about Vanessa’s book Cover Art!

About Cover Art

Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada
Cormorant Books (May 17, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 440 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770866426
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770866423
Kindle Cormorant Books (May 28, 2022)
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B1H89KC1

Charley Scott is thrilled to be running a summer pop-up gallery in cottage country. Returning to the lakeside village, not on vacation but as an artist, she’s determined to turn her hobby into a career.

But, beneath the surface of this peaceful town, darkness lurks. There’s a history.

Local chocolatier, Matt Thorn, is struggling with his father’s death and his legacy of deception. As Matt plans to expose his father’s secrets, a local is found dead, the result of eating Matt’s chocolates.

Luckily, art is all about perspective and Charley’s always had a keen eye. Can she see past the obvious and find the killer?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Charley and Meghan have inherited their grandparent’s cottage by the lake. Meghan moved in with her cop boyfriend right away but Charley took some time. Now she has made the huge decision to quit her job and try to make a career out of what she loves, being an artist. That means she and her dog Cocoa coming to the cottage and Oakcrest where she and two other artists are setting up a pop-up gallery for the summer. Her life now hinges on the success of that gallery. Can she make a living selling her unique Cover Art?

Matt Thorne has returned to Oakcrest and moved into the house his father left him. His father is still intimidating Matt from the grave, he can feel his presence in the house surrounded by all his father’s things. His father had many secrets, secrets that Matt just has to delve into and reveal along with trying to make his new chocolate business a success.

Andrew Clarkston was a domineering man in business and at home. His wife Kayla is one of the artists working with Charley but she will not be participating in it at all if he has anything to say about it.

Thomas Kelley is the third artist participating in the pop-up gallery. Now retired there is something shady in his past. He definitely has a problem with Andrew.

So when Andrew Clarkson is found dead and some of Matt’s chocolates appear to be the murder weapon almost everyone connected to Charley becomes a suspect and Alex goes into full cop mode. Charley has some unique talents that can help him but some threats lead him to tell her to back off. But that is not happening!

Ms. Westermann has introduced a strong cast of characters in the first Charley Scott mystery. They already have some depth to draw readers in but there is plenty of room for growth as the series continues. I admire Charley for chasing her dreams and giving them a chance. She also has a great bond with her sister that can flourish now that are actually spending some real time together. I did enjoy the way Charley’s relationship with Matt is in constant flux. It keeps things interesting. Alex and Meghan’s relationship has a few growing pains but they know they are strong together.

The mystery that these characters are placed in is very complex with a lot of moving parts. There are many secrets that need to be revealed and some promises that may need to be broken to find the truth. I had a few suspects on my personal list that stayed there for quite a while but all at once the actual killer rose to the top of my list and stayed there. I can’t say one clue put everything into place for me, the author plotted out the story too well for that and there was still plenty of room for more twists. The character was well-liked but he gave me a little twitch that made me know it was them.

The author’s descriptive detailed writing style lends itself well to all the facets of the story. Whether it be the artwork the artists have created, the squirrel on the top floor of the gallery, Charley and Meghan’s cottage by the lake, the chocolate shop and all its wares, or the place where the exciting ending takes place, everything is easily captured and visualized. I was very entertained throughout the whole book by everything she presented.

I did enjoy the small-town setting of the story. Not far from Ontario Oakcrest is trying to find its place as the world changes. I think the residents are all on the right track. I loved the shop names and what they had to offer. I hope to return as soon as Ms. Westermann finishes the next book in this series for another great escape.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Vanessa Westermann

An avid reader of mysteries, Vanessa Westermann is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, holds an M.A. in English Literature, as well as a Bachelor of Education, and has taught creative writing. Her debut mystery, An Excuse for Murder, was published in 2019. At the heart of all of Westermann’s stories are strong female protagonists inspired by the heroines in her own life. She currently lives in Ontario.

Social media links:

Blog   Twitter    Facebook    GoodReads     BookBub

Purchase Links –


May 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
May 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
May 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 15 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 17 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 17 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT
May 18 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST
May 19 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 21 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
May 22 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
May 23 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 25 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT  
May 25 – Drink Coffee and Read Books – REVIEW
May 26 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  
May 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!