Posted in Reviews From Dollycas's Thoughts

COZY WEDNESDAY – With Author Krista Davis

This post originally appeared on Dollycas’s Thoughts September 7, 2011.

I love Cozy Wednesdays and hope you do too.  Today my special guest, Krista Davis, author of The Domestic Diva Mysteries. is here and I am really excited.  The latest book in the series, The Diva Haunts the House  is the perfect fall read because “This Halloween A Murderer Is Up To Mischief”.
With yesterday being New Release Tuesday and Krista’s book coming out you know she has been extremely busy getting ready for her big day.  I am so happy she is here today to spend some time with us!
Welcome Krista!!!
Thank you for inviting me!
We’re Watching You!

A dear friend gave me a T-shirt that says Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel. I love that shirt. There’s a little bit of truth in that saying. People often ask writers where we get our ideas. We get them from you!

People are fascinating, and writers are people-watchers. We observe the argument between boyfriend and girlfriend at a bar. We notice the adoring smile of a grandmother in the park with her grandchild. We watch the harried mom on her cell phone in the grocery store who doesn’t realize that her three young children are tossing their favorite candies into her shopping cart.
Even animals draw our attention. A baby snake made its way into my house recently. I’m not a snake person, and this little guy was moving fast. I tossed the closest thing, a dog dish, over top of it so it wouldn’t disappear. Ugh. What’s worse than a snake in the house under a dog dish? A snake on the loose in the house! A normal person eventually forgets about that little snake. A writer uses it in a book.
The Diva Haunts the House (A Domestic Diva Mystery)When I was writing THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE, I came to a part where I needed something spooky to happen. An event that couldn’t be explained, yet, Sophie, my protagonist, had to be able to figure out how it happened. While I was mulling over the possibilities, I heard a creepy voice in my house. I figured out where it came from right away, but no one else was home. What set it off? I won’t spoil the fun — you’ll recognize the event toward the end of the book. It’s something that really happened to me.
The Diva Cooks a Goose (A Domestic Diva Mystery)Of course, we also draw information from the news. In THE DIVA COOKS A GOOSE, Christmas gifts are stolen right out from under the tree. Two days before the book was released, a local man was arrested for stealing wrapped Christmas gifts from someone’s house. They identified him because he dropped his cell phone! Now seriously, aside from the just plain meanness of stealing Christmas gifts, who would steal a wrapped gift? It could be socks or underwear or a talking fish. He was willing to risk jail time for that?
Then there are the fun characters. Do you have some of these in your life? The relative who puts his foot in his mouth every holiday? The co-worker who thinks she’s always right? The boss whose secretary runs the show while he takes the credit? The distant relative who only turns up when he needs a favor? The mom who thinks her angelic child can do nothing wrong, even when the chocolate evidence is smeared all over his mouth?
People are funny, and mean, and deceptive, and clueless, and kind. And since no one is perfect (in spite of the fact that some people think they are perfect), most of us are all of those things at one time or another. Writers are always thinking about what makes people tick because they make life, and mysteries, interesting.
~Krista
Be careful, writers are watching!!! I Love It!!!
Thank you so much Krista for sharing how authors get their ideas.  If you have a friend that is an author you could end up in their book and it will probably be for something you don’t even know they observed until you read it in a book and you say, “hmmmm, that same thing happened to me once.” and then realize OMG, they are writing about me!!!  
Cover Illustrationby Teresa Fasolino

Cover Design

by Diana Kolsky

5th in the series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
Domestic Divas Sophie Winston and Natasha Smith are trying to outdo each other with their Halloween plans.  Sophie is in charge of the community haunted house while Natasha is planning a huge Halloween Bash at her home. Sophie is worried the fake haunted house is really haunted and Natasha has costumes and caters on her mind.
Sophie was not really planning to attend Natasha’s party but she ends up there to try to solve a small problem.  When she arrives she discovers a much bigger problem, one a Natasha’s guests, part of an elaborate Halloween display in the front yard, is not just playing dead,  he is actually, really, very dead and he has two puncture marks on his neck!
Is there a vampire loose in Old Town?  As people stock up on garlic, Sophie is going to figure out who is responsible for all this mischief and murder!!

 

This entire series has been terrific, but The Diva Haunts the House is so much fun. You could say it’s “SPOOKTACULAR”!  I caught myself laughing out loud several times.  All the kids involved in the haunted house brought back some wonderful memories from way back when.
The constant neediness of Natasha to independent Sophie is such a great contrast.  How could the same man have fallen in love with both these women? The dialogue between any of the two or all three together is perfectly written whether serious or hilarious. The mystery my have you laying in a supply of garlic.
I like that this book is being released well in advance of Halloween. There are wonderful tips, recipes and ideas for your own Halloween party, without the dead body in the front yard of course.
Please take a moment to check out Krista’s Web Page. There is even a cool map there of Sophie’s neighborhood!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime. 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 It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

This great meme is hosted by Sheila at
“Book Journey”.
It’s a great way to start the week and
find out what other bloggers are reading.
My To-Be-Read pile has grown to an
unbelievable number thanks to this meme.

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG

I am so excited to be here!!!
Google did turn my accounts back on Friday night at 8 p.m.
with a one line email “This issue has now been resolved.”

But I have created the new blog and
love it and there will be no turning back.
I have learned change is a good thing!

I hope you will all help me by spreading the word.
Dollycas is back!
With a cleaner, leaner site, but still the same
Book Reviews, Recommendations,
Random Thoughts & Giveaways!!

What follows is for 2 weeks.
I spent a lot of time creating this site and picking myself up, dusting myself off
and moving forward with the help of some
very good friends and a couple new ones too.

But I was able to get a little reading in too!

FINISHED

Death by the Dozen (Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

Loose Diamonds: …and other things I’ve lost (and found) along the way

Flipped Out (A Do-It-Yourself Mystery)

Giveaway for one whole set of the series and another for a copy of flipped OUT!!
Click on the Current Giveaway Tab at the top of the blog for details.

Old World Murder and The Heirloom Murders

(Chloe Ellefson Mysteries)

Set in Wisconsin and a Wisconsin Author
Plus Kathleen will be Guest Posting Here
on October 20th!

 How To Party With A Killer Vampire


Penny Warner will be here for Cozy Wednesday this week!!

CURRENTLY READING

The Girl in the Green Raincoat

ON DECK

Liver Let Die

Liz Lipperman will be Guest Posting Here on
October 26 for Cozy Wednesday!

Cemetery Girl

Killer Crab Cakes

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder

I am also participating in
WWRAT

Hosts: Bex @ Kindle Fever, Amanda @ Letters Inside Out,
April @ My Shelf Confessions

This is a Halloween themed Read-a-Thon but it’s not going to restricted  to only Halloween/creepy books,
so pick whatever you want to read! 

I haven’t participating in one of these in awhile
so I have extra books on stand-by if needed.

Check out the CURRENT GIVEAWAYS!!

They have their own page now!!!
Click the above link or the top at the top of the blog.

There are forms listed for all contests in process when Dollycas’s Thoughts went down on October 8th. All end dates have been extended. If you entered at Dollycas’s Thoughts or last week during the interim version of this blog you do not need to enter again. I will be manually combining all lists.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Boy, it’s good to be back!!!

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Posted in Thoughts

WELCOME!!


Whether you are coming over from Dollycas’s Thoughts or the very short lived Escape With Dollycas WordPress hosted site I am so glad you are here. I am also so sorry for the running around you have had to do but I hope you will see this self-hosted WordPress version has so many more benefits than either of the other two. Plus I get to clean up all the accumulated clutter than was filling up Dollycas’s Thoughts. I think this site is gorgeous. Thanks April!! April and my new friend Bex helped me get this all set up yesterday. I will continue to try to get everything just right. Please leave a comment if you have any problems, ideas or questions. As this site evolves more than one set of eyes is always helpful.

If you want to know how this all started here is a direct link to my first WordPress post.
http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/posts/hello-world-2/

I promise this is the last move, so let’s get back to talking BOOKS!!!!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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Posted in Reviews From Dollycas's Thoughts

Review: Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

This Review was originally posted at Dollycas’s Thoughts on August 9, 2011
My Choice For Best Contemporary Fiction 2011!

Cover Art

by Robin Hyzy

This book is available now in both Kindle and Paperback Formats

ISBN-10: 1461085977

ISBN-13: 978-1461085973

 

 

This book has been on my radar for quite awhile and since I haven’t yet given in to an e-reader I had to wait patiently for a paperback copy.  Well that arrived late last week and I spent Sunday curled up with Flat-Out Love.
I can’t write a better synopsis than the one from the back of the book so I am cheating by copying it. I am afraid I would insert a spoiler and let’s face it the author’s humor even resonates in this little blurb. 

 

 

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.  
When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.  
And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul. 
I flat out loved Flat Out Love.
This story is so well written it pulled me right into it.  I started thinking about it being one of my daughters going off to school and how they would react if their housing fell through and they were hundreds of miles away. I felt an immediate personal attachment to Julie. Thankfully she was a very mature college freshman because she was dropped into a very extraordinary situation.

This is a true contemporary romance complete with the snippets of social media, a good bit of humor and mystery too.  I have to say I ran the whole gambit of emotions while reading this wonderful story.  The characters are eccentric, off beat and you may even use the word peculiar, but they are written so true that you can’t help to fall for each and every one.  You will also be surprised, shocked, mad, sad, heartbroken, happy and joyful all in the span of less than 400 pages. You will be laughing out loud one minute and ready to reach into the pages and slap a character the next. Plus the love story is amazing.

This book hit me in a whole different way that any book I have read in a long time.  Yes, I loved it as I have others, but this book was FUN!!! It was like a day out with a good friend, a day you didn’t want to end.  I found it to be inspiring.  I immediately handed it to my 20 year old daughter and said “you have to read this!”

There are very few books that I would call awesome, this is an AWESOME book.  This book has earned a place on my keeper shelf because I know I am going to want to take this journey again and again. Five stars does not cover it, this book is off the charts. 

Have your ordered your copy yet?  I am telling you this is a must read, A MUST READ!!! Then please come back and share your thoughts with me.  I want to talk to everyone I know about this book!!!

Jessica Park you have hit this one out of the park!!!!!!! I can’t wait to read whatever you are working on next!!!!

 

 

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel  Agent

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book is from my private collection 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.” 

 

 

To find out more about this fabulous author be sure to check out her web pages:

 

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Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011

COZY WEDNESDAY – With Author Linda O. Johnston (Giveaway too!!)

THIS WAS COPIED FROM DOLLYCAS’S THOUGHTS WHICH GOOGLE DECIDED TO TURN BACK ON TONIGHT!

My first experience with today’s guest was reading her romance novels for Harlequin Intrigue and when I started this blog I realized she wrote cozies as well.  Her new Pet Rescue Mysteries have captured my heart. I am so happy she is here today to tell us all about this series and it’s latest edition.

Welcome Linda!!!

Hi.  I’m delighted to be guest blogging on Dollycas’s Thoughts.

Saving Animals – Fictionally and Otherwise

 

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I kill people for a living.  Fictionally, of course.
I also save animals fictionally.  In real life, I help to save them by volunteering at a private pet shelter.
When I started the Pet Rescue Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime, I’d been writing the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series for a while.  In the eighth in the series, HOWL DEADLY, I introduced a character in a subplot, Lauren Vancouver, who really captured my attention.  She was the administrator of a private, no-kill pet shelter in LA’s San Fernando Valley, and it was clear that she was a real animal advocate.  She’d do nearly anything to save the lives of pets.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who really liked Lauren.  She became the protagonist of my new spinoff series.
Her shelter, HotRescues, is funded by Kendra’s latest squeeze, Dante DeFrancisco, a rich mogul who made his money from a chain of pet stores.  That meant HotRescues is in a much better situation than most similar organizations, since it has no money issues.  As I said, this is fiction.  But that gives Lauren a lot of latitude in what she does to save animals.
Cover Illustration

by Paper Dog Studio

Cover Design

by Rita Frangie

The second book in the series, THE MORE THE TERRIER, became officially available yesterday, October 4.  In it, Lauren is faced with a dilemma.  She discovers right at the beginning that her former mentor, Mamie Spelling, has become an animal hoarder!
If you’ve seen those shows on TV featuring animal hoarders who usually see the light and reform, you know what a sad situation hoarding really is.  Like Mamie, many real hoarders don’t set out to harm animals but to save one, then ten, then dozens.  The problem is they don’t have the room to do it, nor the money to keep the animals well fed, nor the resources to keep the environment clean.  Lauren is horrified when she visits Mamie’s shelter and sees how awful it has become.  She calls the authorities–as she must under LA policy–and has the animals taken away.  Mamie, too, although officials real and fictional generally realize how fruitless it is to prosecute hoarders for animal abuse since they often have mental issues and they’re almost always recidivists –they do it all over again.
In my story, none of the animals is too sick to survive.  Lauren is able to save all of them, even though they’re taken into custody by LA Animal Services, a public system where overcrowding can result in euthanasia.  But even though Lauren doesn’t have room for them all, she has friends running other private shelters, so every one of the animals is picked up and taken to those shelters till they can be adopted.
Once again, this is fiction.  And since it’s a cozy mystery, someone–a person–has to die.  Mamie is the primary suspect, since the victim is someone who has been hounding her about her hoarding.  So here is Lauren’s dilemma: she despises the fact that Mamie has abused animals–but can she allow her aging, confused mentor to be prosecuted for a crime against people that she most likely didn’t commit?
You know the answer.  As I said, it’s a cozy mystery.
And you can be sure that, in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!
Since starting to write the Pet Rescue Mysteries, I’ve become a lot more conscious about the dilemma of so many pets needing good homes.  It started as research, and has become a pet cause (pun intended) of mine.  I’m proud to say that I’m a dog adoption counselor at Pet Orphans of Southern California, which means I help introduce people interested in adopting a dog to their potential new family member.  I also do the initial screening of possible adopters, since the idea is to attempt to ensure that the pets will go to good, and appropriate, homes.
The Pet Rescue Mysteries started in March with BEAGLEMANIA.  It begins at a puppy mill rescue, where Lauren meets her love interest, Captain Matt Kingston of Los Angeles Animal Services.  He’s a great contact to have, since he keeps Lauren notified of animals in need of rescuing before being put down by the public shelter.  The next one will be HOUNDS ABOUND, which will be published in April 2012.  It features a very special pet rescue facility that takes in hard-to-adopt animals such as the disabled and seniors.
How about you–are you an animal lover?  Are you a fan of pet rescue?
Please come visit me at www.LindaOJohnston.com and at www.KillerHobbies.blogspot.com on Wednesdays.  Friend me on Facebook.  I’d love to hear what you think of pet rescue–and THE MORE THE TERRIER !

~Linda
Thank you so much Linda!!! I am so happy that we have the internet and Facebook so that we can actually contact our favorite authors and let them know how much we love their books!!

A Berkley Prime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
Available Now
I have fallen hard for Lauren and her enormous heart.  She not only bends overs backwards to save dogs but even fights for an old friend she hasn’t been in contact with for years looking beyond the fact that she was abusing animals. Linda gives Lauren such a powerful voice on pet rescues at the same time making her the friend we would all want to have.  

The story is exciting with a very current topic of hoarding.  I have to admit until I read this book I never thought about someone hoarding pets and it really opened my eyes. 

This series is really packs more of a one-two punch, they stories are fun and entertaining but they also make us aware of a huge over population of pets in the United States.  I almost feel we should have a Bob Barker moment to remind ourselves “to have your pets spayed or neutered”.  I also feel that adopting and giving pets “forever homes” is an uplifting experience.  We have 3 rescued kitties under our roof.  If you are looking for a pet to love, start out at a shelter and save a life that will love you unconditionally immediately.

Like cozy mysteries, like animals, you will love this book! Your invisible tails will be wagging with delight!!!!

Your Escape With A Goof Book Travel Agent

 

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


 

 

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Posted in Thoughts

Feel Good Friday

Hosted by: Erika, the girl next door grows up

Welcome to
Feel Good Friday!!!

Erika had found that a lot of her bloggy friends reading posts about being positive, so she thought she might try her very own meme. She just wanted everyone to feel good and have some happy thoughts as you begin the weekend.

“The Girl” is busy constructing a new website so for the time being this feature is being hosted by lia sophia tomgirl. She has a great blog, be sure to check it out!

What made me FEEL GOOD this week?

It was quite a week! Old blog gone along with everything else I used Google for, a new blog creation and I added a Facebook Fan Page.

As I have spent the week trying to recreate my internet life I have learned a lot. I am very thankful for friends and family who helped and supported me through this week and thankful for my readers who are spreading the word and following me around the blogosphere.  I am thrilled to hear that the uploading problems of the old blog have disappeared with the new one.  I intend to keep this one cleaner and clearer with a lot less hype than the old one.

 

 

I have learned though that I will have one more upgrade to make and will try to make it as unnoticeable as possible. WordPress.com is so much better than Blogger but to honor commitments that I have I made to places like Book World and to make giveaways easier and also to give me more freedom as to color and fonts I will need to upgrade to a site hosted away from wordpress.com. I will also be able to add back Google Friend Connect with this upgrade so it will be easier to follow me for those of you that like Google Reader. This format does not allow advertising or certain scripts that I need to give you a quality Book Blog.

I hope it will be an easy redirect, but since this blog is less than a week old I may just have to direct you to the new site, but will transfer all info like giveaways, posts and comments so we should be all good there.

Thank you all for all you have done. Maybe I will convert all of you Blogger people to WordPress, 🙂 because as you know Google is not my favorite company right now!

I will keep you updated!!!

Now tell me
What made you Feel Good this week?
I hope you will take a moment to share!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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Posted in Thoughts

Giveaway Redo – Redone

Sorry everyone. Still a big learning curve here. Form is up in sidebar and you should be able to check one, two or all 3 giveaways and only have to enter your information one.  Old forms were not giving me info correctly so please re-enter on the new form.

Lori

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Posted in Giveaways Reviews 2011

GIVEAWAY REDO

Google decided to turn my accounts back on tonight so I am adding entry forms here. No matter how you enter all entries will be counted with the exception of all the bonus entries. If you entered at Dollycas’s Thoughts or at the original WordPress Blog through the form in the sidebar you do not need to enter again. I will manually be sure all entries are compiled and use Random.org to choose winners.

You all have been amazing through this entire upheaval in my blog life. You know if I would have done nothing, my accounts never would have been turned back on. This has been a roller coaster ride I would not wish on anyone. The good thing that came out of this is that I have this new site without the problems of Dollycas’s Thoughts that were causing many of you headaches. The old WordPress was up just 5 days and you found it but here we can use Google Friend Connect and for now Google Forms for giveaways, so good definitely came out of bad.

 

We should be good to go now.  You can check, one, two or all 3 giveaways.  I am really sorry about that.

Thanks to my Google fiasco we will have to start over the giveaways that were in progress when Dollycas’s Thoughts disappeared from the blogosphere.

Below you will find parts of the posts I was able to rescue and then these will be an easy, no frills,  bare bones, giveaway entries.  There will be an entry form in the sidebar for each giveaway.  Simple, FULL NAME, EMAIL, MAILING ADDRESS.  Each entry will be assigned a number chronologically as received and Random.org will be used to chose the winners.  All 3 contests will end October 28 at 11:59 p.m. CST Winners will be emailed and the results will be posted here.

GIVEAWAY #1

Button Holed (Button Box Mystery)
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
A Brand New Series

Josie Giancola is known as a button expert for all kinds of buttons and has even worked in Hollywood. Today she is opening her new button shop, The Button Box, set up in a Chicago brownstone. She also has an appointment with a well known Hollywood starlet who wants to find the perfect buttons for her perfect wedding dress. Josie arrives extra early on her opening day to make sure everything is ready for her appointment only to find that her store has been broken into and ransacked. There are buttons everywhere. Buttons she had spent many days sorting and categorizing and displaying with flawless precision.

Things don’t get any better when the next day the starlet is found dead right in the middle of The Button Box. The homicide detective seems to be looking for clues in all the wrong places and the murderer has now set his sights on Josie. She has no choice but to follow the clues she has and get this murderer all buttoned up before she finds herself “Button Holed”!

My Thoughts
This story could not have been more perfect. Wonderful characters, a delightful complex plot, and thoroughly engaging humor.

I fell for Josie on the very first page. I come from a family of seamstresses and they all had button bowls and boxes. As a child I spent hours sorting, stacking and separating my favorites. I have my own button box around here somewhere from my sewing days and I know there are some buttons in there from my ancestors as well. Button Holed (Button Box Mystery) and The Button Box brought back some wonderful memories. Thankfully none of my memories include a dead starlet.

There is also a very interesting thread throughout the story about some very special buttons that I really enjoyed.

I was truly entertained from the first page to the last! I am patiently waiting for Kill Button, the next book inThe Button Box Mystery Series coming soon, but never soon enough!!

I have 2 copies to share!!

GIVEAWAY #2
Laurel Dewey Giveaway

Detective Jane Perry is on the case.  In Promissory Payback she is investigating the gruesome death of a woman with not many friends and a whole lot of enemies.  “Karma is a bitch” is very true in this case.

Unrevealed contains 4 short Jane Perry stories.
ANONYMOUS: One of Jane’s first AA meetings leads her to an encounter with a woman in need of her detection skills…and a secret she never expected to uncover.

YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER: Forced by her boss to speak at a high school career day, Jane meets a troubled boy and finds that his story is only the beginning of a much more revealing tale.

YOU’RE ONLY AS SICK AS YOUR SECRETS: An early-morning homicide call introduces Jane to a mystery as layered as it is unsuspected.

THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM: Jane finds herself sharing a 2:00 am conversation at a downtown bar with an old acquaintance. Will the bloody night that proceeded this moment complicate Jane’s intentions?


My Thoughts
I really enjoyed these stories. Don’t let the small number of pages fool you.  These are well written short mysteries that still pack a punch with sharp dialogue, a gritty leading lady and plots that play out a break neck speed. They are the perfect quick reads to get your mystery fix.  There are even more Jane Dewey novels/novelettes to enjoy and the author will be starting a new series next year with a whole new star. Keep your eye on this author!!

I have one set of these books to giveaway!

GIVEAWAY #3

India Black and the Widow of Windsor
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
A Madam of Espionage Mystery
Second book in the series.

India Black is back and on a new mission with her friend French in Scotland.

Queen Victoria attended a séance where she is contacted by her dearly departed husband, Prince Albert, where he insists she break tradition and spend the Christmas holiday at Balmoral, their Scottish castle. The Prime Minister believes that Scottish nationalists are planing to assassinate the Queen and calls on his friend and British spy, French, who invitesIndia to join him undercover at the castle.  French poses as one of the guests, while India’s assignment is to be the maid to the eccentric Dowanger Marchioness of Tullibardine.

It doesn’t take long for India to realize the Prime Minister was exactly right in his assessment of the situation.  For the next few days Indiaand French will be running themselves ragged to find the Queen’s enemies and assure her safety.

My Thoughts
Like the first book in this series, India Black, I loved this story.  I adore where the author took this character on this adventure. Balmoral is a fascinating setting and I don’t know how true the author’s descriptions are of the castle, but I felt like I was right there sneaking through the hallways with India.

The story also contains a wonderful mystery with plenty of twists but what really captured by heart in this story was the humor.  India has a quick wit and keen intelligence and while not at all happy with her job in this adventure she continues to entertain us with her observations and quips. The Lady India serves sets up several instances that had me laughing out loud.

Carol K. Carr is an amazing storyteller.  I love her writing style. In her case, her words are worth a thousand beautiful pictures.  I have absolutely no problem “escaping” far into her books and don’t want to leave after the last words are read.  I want to follow India on her next adventure.  Please Carol don’t make me want too long for my next trip abroad.

I have 2 copies to share!!!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Posted in Reviews 2011

Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
Viking
Published by The Penguin Group
Jacket Illustration by Rachel Ross
Jacket Design by Roseanne Serra
Available Now!

Kathleen Flinn returns from Paris where she studied at Le Cordon Bleu. Back in the Seattle she is unsure what to do with her new culinary degree until a trip to a local grocery store give her an epiphany.  Seeing a woman’s cart filled with boxes of “ultraprocessed products” kicked her “chefternal” instincts into overdrive.  As she talked to the woman she realized this woman was afraid to cook things fresh because she thought it would be too hard or wouldn’t taste right.  She spent some time traveling with her around the store and convinced her to put the packaged food back on the shelf and try cooking with real food. This made her start to wonder if she had found what to do with her degree.

This led Kathleen to gather a group of volunteers who felt the same as the woman in the grocery store.  She enlisted the help of other culinary professionals, rented kitchen space and started a class on cooking fundamentals from making simple Alfredo sauce to proper chopping techniques and even weekly taste testing of things like olive oil and salt.  This book tracks the volunteers through the classes and includes common sense recipes and details for the reader as well.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed this book. My husband is the “chef” in our family and have inserted several post it’s within the pages of things I want to share with him.

This book really reads a lot like fiction, taking peeks into these people’s lives with wonderful lessons and recipes as an added bonus. While very instructional it is entertaining and humorous. The author has a delightful writing style.

With fast food quickly becoming the common way to eat these days, this book will teach you that fast food can be nourishing, tasteful and does not come from a drive thru lane.  I was actually stunned how easy it is to make dishes that I thought could only be found in a restaurant, with wonderful flavor and none of the preservatives found it the prepackaged dishes found on the grocery shelves. This may be a book to add to your cookbook shelf after reading the story of the volunteer’s journey at the The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.  It could change your life.

To find out more about Kathleen Flinn check out her webpage at kathleenflinn.com You may even be able to catch her on tour!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Viking. 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 Cozy Wednesday Guest Posts Reviews 2011

Cozy Wednesday With Jennie Bentley (Great Giveaway Too!)

Welcome to the first Cozy Wednesday at Escape With Dollycas.  I am so excited Jennie is here to kick things off! The second book in her Do-It-Yourself Mystery Series, Spackled and Spooked was one of the first books I reviewed over at Dollycas’s Thoughts.  I have loved this series from the start and Flipped Out has quickly become my favorite.

Please help me give a warm welcome to Jennie Bentley!

Hi Jennie!

Hi Everyone, I am happy to be here as Dollycas settles into her new home, a major DIY project!

ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION. . .
EIGHT TIPS THAT’LL DO IT!

Last week, the fifth installment in the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries was released by Berkley Prime Crime. It’s called Flipped Out a title it shares with the fictitious television show in the book, the one my main characters – designer Avery Baker and handyman Derek Ellis – are filming a segment of.

In real estate terms, a ‘flip’ is a house you buy and sell in quick succession, often without even closing on the sale before passing it off to someone else. It’s also used to describe a quickie renovation job; as Derek puts it: “Slapping lipstick on the pig.”

With five days to whip the house into shape for the cameras, Avery and Derek are applying a whole lot of ‘lipstick’ – and you can, too!

Whether you’re thinking of selling your house – the way Avery and Derek are – or you just want to a do a few updates while you’re living there, curb appeal is super-important: what someone sees when they walk or drive up to your place can make or break a sale, or totally demolish someone’s first impression.

Here are eight easy, inexpensive DIY fixes that can pump up the volume of an otherwise ho-hum exterior for little or no money.

1. First things first: Mow grass and tidy up landscaping.
It costs little to nothing (except for time clocked) to trim overgrown hedges, edge walkways, pull up weeds and cut out dead growth. Transplanting is free, too: Move those gorgeous dahlias from the back to the front yard, where they’re sure to be noticed. Mulch is another winner: Spread a layer of grass clippings (free, collected from a lawnmower), straw, or tree bark-based mulch at the bases of trees and flowerbeds. Doing so not only protects plantings and improves soil quality, but beautifies your yard. Use an online calculator to figure out how much you’ll need.

2. Wash dirty siding and dingy decking.
You can pressure wash any type of siding (save for wood shingles) quickly and easily with a rented power-washer. Or you can use some good old-fashioned elbow grease, your garden hose (on a medium-spray setting), a long-handled scrub brush and a bucketful of water mixed with a few squirts of dish soap. For wood porches and decks, oxygen bleach is the way to go. It’s nontoxic to you, and to pets and vegetation. Mix a few scoops into a bucketful of water, dip the brush and scrub away.

3. Invest in some cool house numbers.
Switch out those tired old digits and give your address a makeover. House numbers can be screwed in or easily glued on with adhesive—and there’s a vast array of styles and materials available. For even more oomph, paint or stain a tall newel post the same color as your front door or shutters, then attach some new, stylized numbers and sink it into the ground either at the end of your driveway or near your home’s entry. (Best to expect some neighborly copycatting on that one.)

4. Upgrade the mailbox.
Wobbly, dented mailboxes are unsightly. Changing the box is a great way to add personality. Installation of a bold door-side mailbox requires only some simple drilling. A good-looking, durable freestanding mailbox just needs a hole dug for the post. Or if your existing mailbox is serviceable but drab, you can paint it or buy a seasonal wrap.

5. Repaint or stain a wood door.
If you’re not ready to spring for a new door, this is the way to go. There’s no excuse for the front door looking anything but shipshape because paint and stain are so inexpensive (and potentially free if you have some paint or stain sitting around from another job). Remove any hardware first (or you can tape around hinges and knobs if you’re feeling confident and have a steady hand). Surfaces need sanding (fine, 180-grit sandpaper should suffice), dusting, priming and two to three coats of paint. Go with the grain; follow the same procedure with stain and varnish.

6. Upgrade the front door hardware.
Basic front door hardware is easy to replace. You’ll find a wide array of bells, doorknockers and escutcheons (plates surrounding bells, keyholes, knobs) at hardware stores and flea markets. A doorbell upgrade is also easy, as there’s often no need to replace the actual chime, just the hardware surround. (If you do want to switch out the entire doorbell, there’s minor rewiring involved.) A kick plate, typically made of polished metals like rustic pewter, aged bronze, or satin nickel, boosts a door’s wow-factor while shielding it from stains and scuff marks. Switching the lockset is the most costly change you’ll make to the entry. Protection is your first priority: choose a lockset that isn’t just pretty, but that will protect your home from intruders. For a cohesive, stylized look, choose accents with the same finishes, and be sure they’re stylistically similar to your home’s design.

7. Replace old light fixtures.
Match the style and finish of new lights to other elements in your entry and you’re generally good to go. For lighting the yard, you can opt for solar-powered lights, which have three significant advantages over their hard-wired electric counterparts: There’s no assembly required, they save energy, and you can move them around with little effort. Sink a few attractive lantern-style lights into the soil that flanks walkways and the driveway. You’ll be amazed at how good this actually makes a home look.

8. Clean and dress up windows.
Mullions, moldings and decorative brackets can really make your exterior pop, and installation is as easy as clicking in a PVC grid over existing windows, or screwing wooden brackets into existing structures. Sometimes, the act of simply cleaning the windows—inside and out—is all you’ll need to massively improve the view. Dish detergent (or plain old vinegar) and a microfiber rag (or a piece of newspaper!) should do the trick. For hard-to-reach windows, use a cleaner formulated for outdoor use that attaches to your garden hose. It should dry to a smudge-free finish, and there’s no need to remove screens. Just wash on a cloudy, non-windy day, as breezes and sunlight dry panes too quickly, leaving unsightly streaks behind.

These and other tips abound in “Flipped Out,” There are directions for how to customize a doormat, how to build your own batten-board shutters, and how to build your own window boxes and planters, among other things. And you don’t want to miss out on how to make your very own Swiss Cheese Adirondack chair! So go ahead, get yourself a copy today. You know you want to!

~Jennie
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