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Gambling with Murder: A Southern California Mystery by Lida Sideris #Spotlight / #Giveaway @lidasideris – Great Escapes Book Tour


It is my pleasure to shine my spotlight on Gambling with Murder: A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris today!

About Gambling for Murder


Gambling with Murder: A Southern California Mystery
Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – California
Level Best Books (March 29, 2022)
Paperback, 260 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09QYW2VYG

A late-night call is all it takes for rookie lawyer Corrie Locke to kiss her day job at the movie studio goodbye, and do what she does best: flex her sweet P.I. skills and go undercover to find a senior who’s missing from a posh retirement community. One small stumbling block: skirting past security to gain inside access to the exclusive Villa Sunset. Time to call in the heavy artillery. Besides former security guard turned legal assistant—now wannabe P.I.—Veera, Corrie relies on a secret weapon: her mother, a surprisingly eager addition to Corrie’s team. Armed with enough pepper spray to take down a band of Navy Seals, Mom impersonates a senior to infiltrate the Villa, Corrie and Veera in tow. Turns out the job’s not as easy as they’d thought. These seniors have tricks tucked up their sleeves and aren’t afraid of using them.

 

The action gets dicey when the missing senior case turns into attempted murder by a criminal mind who’s always one step ahead. Corrie’s hot on the trail, but finds more than she bargained for…when her mother becomes a target.

 

About Lida Sideris

Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award and a Silver Falchion Award Finalist. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens. To learn more, please visit: www.LidaSideris.com

Author Links

Website   Facebook   BookBub    Twitter: @lidasideris   Instagram: @lida_sideris

Purchase Links – Amazon

 

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April 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST
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Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cheddar Off Dead: A Cheese Shop Mystery by Korina Moss #Review

Cheddar Off Dead: A Cheese Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (March 29, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250795192
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250795199
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09C4FZDD5

In Korina Moss’s cozy series debut, Cheddar Off Dead, cheesemonger Willa Bauer discovers that her new home in a small Sonoma Valley town is ripe for murder… something here stinks to high heaven, and Willa knows it’s not the cheese.

Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is proving that sweet dreams are made of cheese. She’s opened her very own French-inspired cheese shop, Curds & Whey, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The small town of Yarrow Glen is Willa’s fresh start, and she’s determined to make it a success – starting with a visit from the local food critic. What Willa didn’t know is that this guy never gives a good review, and when he shows up nothing goes according to plan. She doesn’t think the night can get any worse… until she finds the critic’s dead body, stabbed with one of her shop’s cheese knives. Now a prime suspect, Willa has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese, but she’s never tried to apply it to murder…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Welcome to Yarrow Glen and the new Curds & Whey Cheese shop. Willa Bauer has opened the shop as a fresh start in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. She has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese. She can’t wait to share her mantra and her cheeses with all the residents of her new home.

Hoping to get the shop off to a good start she is looking forward to having a local food critic review the place. But then she learns this critic rarely gives a good review.

The man finally arrives late and clearly intoxicated right in the middle of a cheesemaking class Willa is having for her new neighbors and he is not happy with the people attending the class. After making some threats he leaves much to Willa’s dismay. He didn’t even taste any of the cheese. The class quickly wraps up and Willa is worried about the fate of her shop when he pens a horrible review.

Her worries get substantially worse when she finds the man dead. Stabbed with one of her new cheese knives. Cheese is not going to solve this problem. To save herself and her shop she is going to need to find the killer before the cheese really hits the fan.


Cheesemonger Willa Bauer took a roundabout path before opening her shop in Yarrow Glen. She grew up on a family farm in Oregon but left to travel the world learning about all types of cheese before opening Curds & Whey, so she is very knowledgeable about her product. She has hired two wonderful employees, Archie, a recent high school graduate, and Mrs. Schulz, a retired schoolteacher. We also meet her neighbor Baz who works around town as a handyman. All three are familiar with the town and what makes it tick. Mrs. Schultz was my favorite. “Very matter of fact, but also a little out there”. I loved the ideas she and Archie come up with to promote the shop. Ms. Moss gives us a nice introduction to these core characters while leaving plenty of room for growth.

The mystery was well written but with the small suspect pool, I did focus on one individual pretty quickly. Each clue just kept reinforcing my theory. I did enjoy the way Willa, Baz, Archie, and Mrs. Schultz banded together to try to catch the killer. The pace at which the mystery unfolded was a little slow for me but I can attribute that to being the first book in the series and the necessity to introduce all the characters and the settings.

This story is very similar to the Cheese Shop Mysteries written by Avery Aames so I did find myself comparing the two. Like Charlotte Bessette, Willa shares many tips and information about the production and flavors of many different types of cheeses. I am always looking for more cheesy recipes and hope that we are treated to more as this series continues. With the right development, Willa could become as impressive as Charlotte too.

Cheddar Off Dead is a good start for this series. To make me check into this series for the long haul I need Willa to have a little more depth and to pace herself and not jump so quickly to conclusions. I am a fan of some romance in my cozy mysteries but it felt like she was looking at every man in the book as a possible partner. I feel all the right elements have been laid out for a strong series, I look forward to seeing how the author builds on them in book two, Gone for Gouda.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

KORINA MOSS is the author of the Cheese Shop cozy mystery series set in Sonoma Valley. She loves creating quirky characters who live in idyllic small towns. Moss grew up on a healthy dose of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie novels, which developed her passion for solving mysteries and eventually writing her own. She lives in a small New England town with its own share of quirky characters.
WebsiteFacebookTwitterWriter’s Who Kill BlogInstagram

Coming September 27, 2022

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 Spotlights

Snowed Under Murder (A Sierra Pines B&B Mystery) by Kathryn Long #Spotlight / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour


It is my pleasure to shine my spotlights on
Snowed Under Murder (A Sierra Pines B&B Mystery)

by Kathryn Long today!

About Snowed Under Murder


Snowed Under Murder (A Sierra Pines B&B Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Camel Press (March 8, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1942078609
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1942078609
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09MSRTZDG

The holiday season has arrived when all should be merry in Sierra Pines. A plea from her mother pushes Ali to offer her annoying cousin, Nathan, and his even more annoying bride, Isadora, lodging at the B&B. When Isadora is found dead at the bottom of a ski slope and fingers point to Nathan as suspect number one, the merry season turns into a scary season for the residents of Sierra Pines. Soon, the B&B needs numerous repairs, the Sierra Pines Alliance of Cultural Activities is missing funds, and business owners quarrel incessantly about their dismal sales. What horrible spell has fallen on this cozy town? What’s worse—everyone blames Nathan for bringing a curse. Ali knows her cousin might get on her nerves, but he’s no killer. However, can she prove his innocence?

About Kathryn Long

Retired teacher, Kathryn Long now spends her days plotting and writing mysteries. Besides her SIERRA PINES B&B MYSTERIES, published credits include A DEADLY DEED GROWS and BURIED IN SIN. She’s actively involved in the writing and publishing worlds with social media platforms, including her author website, blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. As Bailee Abbott, she writes the PAINT BY MURDER MYSTERY SERIES. The second book, KILL THEM WITH CANVAS, will release October 11, 2022. She lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio.

Author Links

WEBSITE    FACEBOOK     TWITTER      GOODREADS     INSTAGRAM

Purchase Links:

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
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Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Finish The Series Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge TBR Pile Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Flour in the Attic (A Bread Shop Mystery) by Winnie Archer #Review / #Giveaway

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


Flour in the Attic (A Bread Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – California
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496724399
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496724397
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07L26LG9X

Ivy Culpepper keeps the ovens hot at Yeast of Eden, a Northern California bakery that specializes in traditional breads. But now she has to deal with a stone-cold killer . . .

Just as Ivy’s brother Billy is about to get engaged to his beloved, a tragedy interrupts the happy moment. The body of longtime Santa Sofia resident Marisol Ruiz washes up on the beach—and it’s even more heartbreaking since Marisol’s father also recently died. But Marisol was a strong competitive swimmer. It seems unlikely there’s even a grain of truth to the theory that she accidentally drowned.

As Ivy gets to work helping her mentor, Olaya Solis, with the catering for Marisol’s funeral, she also teams up with her partners in detection—because if they want to prevent someone from getting away with murder, there’s no time for loafing . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

There’s a killer loose in Santa Sofia and sadly the victim was a beloved member of the community. Marisol Ruiz was a waitress at Miguel’s restaurant so the death strikes close for many members of the community including Ivy. Sadly Marisol has just recently lost her father and was having a hard time dealing with his death and at first, some people thought she took her own life but the evidence quickly proved otherwise.

Also happening around town, Sheriff Emmaline Davis is planning to propose to Ivy’s brother but now she has this murder to solve first. Ivy and Miquel are going to do everything they can do to help her do that. They hope that catering Marisol’s funeral will shed some light on who killed her and why.


This series is filled with a great cast of diverse characters that are allowed to shine within these pages. They are all well-crafted with plenty of room left for growth. It was hard to pick a favorite this time because they were all excellent. Miguel and his family always give me the good feels. Ivy is a fantastic protagonist and seems like so much fun to be around.

The mystery this time takes a real unexpected turn that twists the whole story up. After that turn, my stomach got this sick feeling as I knew where everything was headed. I was completely satisfied with the way the story played out.  I may have been cheering just a little bit.

I know when I pick up a book by this author I am going to be entertained from beginning to end. Flour in the Attic was no exception.

I have gotten behind on this series but the last line of the book was a real zinger. A cliffhanger that draws readers right into the next book in the series. I intend to jump right into Dough or Die soon and the rest of the series too.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Winnie Archer is the nationally bestselling author of the Bread Shop Mystery series, the Lola Cruz Mysteries, the Book Magic Mysteries, and the Magical Dressmaking Mystery series written as Melissa Bourbon. A former middle school English teacher she lives in North Carolina with her educator husband, Carlos, and the youngest of their five children.


You can read my review of Kneaded to Death here.
You can read my review of Crust No One here.
You can read my review of The Walking Bread here.

Written as Melissa Bourbon



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Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cloak and Dagger Challenge E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series) by Cara Bertoia #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @CaraBertoia

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
by Cara Bertoia

About Casino Queen


Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
Cozy Mystery/Romantic Suspense
1st in Series
Setting – California
Wild Rose Press (March 16, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 260 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1509240918
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1509240913
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09PJWMG9Z

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino where she is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert of Southern California. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of often unique guests, and growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

After traveling to Russia with her husband Andrei, Caroline’s life implodes when he tells her their real estate business in Palm Springs is underwater in debt. He begs her to stay with him in Russia but she returns to California to face the creditors and deal with the fallout. To handle to immense tax debt her friend, John Tovar hires her to work at his tribe’s casinos. She soon finds herself promoted to casino manager at the Night Hawk Casino with the direction to update the place and grow it to be all it can be. But she also has to watch over the staff. Being around the amounts of money her employees see can quickly lead to corruption.


I started reading Casino Queen and could not put the book down. I stayed up late because the story had a slow build that grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Soon the story became so surprising and suspenseful the pages were flying so fast there should have been steam coming out of my Kindle.

Caroline Popov is a character with depth. She uses her keen observations skills to keep the guests of the casino happy and her employees honest. Sadly she does make a few enemies when she needs to ban some guests and fire a few employees. She has a huge heart so those actions weren’t easy but she can’t turn her back on out of control behavior or illegal acts. She also loves her husband dearly but couldn’t abide his actions. She fights hard to always do the right thing and at times that takes a lot of courage. The more I read the more I loved this character and became invested in everything about her and what she faced.

The author draws on her vast knowledge of casinos to give her readers a real beyond-the-scenes look at a place full of bells and whistles. From the slot machines, blackjack tables, money counters, and dealers, to the restaurants and security offices and personnel she goes into depth on it all. We also get to travel the desert to Caroline’s cozy home. The desert setting was great for this story. The desolate area was eerie at the right times and beautiful in others. I really enjoyed Ms. Bertoia’s descriptions. I felt like I was following right in Caroline’s footsteps.

Casino Queen was not what I expected from reading the synopsis, it was so much more. The casino culture was both interesting and intriguing. Add to that some mystery, suspense, and romance and you have an absolutely Perfect Escape. In the end, everything in this story appears to be wrapped up nicely. I am really excited to see where the author takes Caroline next.



Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Cara Bertoia

Growing up in a strait-laced Southern family, I was always fascinated with casinos. In my twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, I drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. Well, I can tell you that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. My mother highly disapproved of my working in a casino, “a place so bad it has ‘sin’ in the middle.”

Eventually, I succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston. I also began working on my MFA in writing at Emerson. I wanted to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. I am always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe my novel will.

While in Boston I was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, I spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. I was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad.

I returned from ships with a very special souvenir, my Scottish husband Ray. We went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs. We now live in Hollywood, Florida, where I write about my casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.

I love to see any of you out there reading Casino Queen. Send me a picture to carabertoia@yahoom.com and I will post it on social media. 

Thank you, Cara B

Author Links

Cara Bertoia’s Blog    Twitter     Cara Bertoia – Author (godaddysites.com) Cara Bertoia (@carabertoia) • Instagram photos and videos     Facebook   TikTok:  tiktok.com/@carabertoia

GoodReads Cara Bertoia      BookBub Cara Bertoia 

Purchase Links

Amazon – Barnes and Noble

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

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge Purrfect Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Murder Faux Paws: A Nick and Nora Mystery by T. C. LoTempio #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @RoccoBlogger


Murder Faux Paws: A Nick and Nora Mystery

by T. C. LoTempio

About Murder Faux Paws


Murder Faux Paws: A Nick and Nora Mystery
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – California
Beyond the Page (February 22, 2022)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 273 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09Q6HDGF9

Dead men tell no tales, but in the riveting new Nick and Nora Mystery, they sure leave a lot of clues . . .

When a local PI’s untimely death is ruled a suicide by the police, budding sleuth Nora Charles has no intention of letting sleeping dogs lie—or sleeping cats, for that matter. Certain it was a case of foul play, Nora rouses her trusty sidekick Nick and launches an investigation of her own. Then a second PI is murdered, and Nora knows the two men were on to something—and that she’s on to something too.

Following the enigmatic clues left by her late predecessors, Nora soon uncovers a plot that involves a local politician, missing campaign funds, and what could be a bogus real estate deal. But when hints of treason surface, what started as small-time thievery soon balloons into a matter of national security. With the uncanny Nick sniffing out—and spelling out—leads, Nora follows a trail that will take her to the heart of a shadowy conspiracy, and into a trap set by a conniving culprit that will have her wishing she had Nick’s nine lives . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Someone is killing private investigators and with the way Nora Charles snooping into the cases she may be next! Can Nick spell out the clues to keep her safe?

In this fifth installment, Nora is taking a class to get her PI license and through her substitute instructor, she learns that a local PI’s death has been ruled a suicide but he believes the man was murdered. Then the substitute instructor is killed right near her sandwich shop. Of course, Nora jumps right in when she can’t get Samms and Daniel to listen to her at all. When the police co make an arrest she knows they have no clue to what is really going on so she and Nick will have to solve the mystery for them. But she may take things on her own a step too far . . .


Ms. Lo Tempio’s re-imagination of Dashiell Hammett’s characters is priceless. These stories feature handsome tuxedo cool cat Nick and his person, Nora Charles. Nora keeps finding dead bodies and Nick uses Scrabble tiles to spell out clues to help her catch the killers.

The author has created some truly clever characters for this series holding on to just enough thread to honor Hammett’s. Their relationship is grand and Nick always steals the show. Former investigative reporter Nora has the chops to be a wonderful amateur sleuth and future private investigator but Nick catches things she misses, sometimes literally, and spells out just what she needs to know. She has close relationships with the local police and an FBI boyfriend so she should know to report to them before rushing into what can be scary scenes but she doesn’t and she fails to learn from her past experiences. I really have a problem with that. I did think her goose was cooked this time.

Readers are treated to a nice mystery with plenty of twists and turns and an exciting ending. I liked that the case was bigger than it seemed at first with national security on the table. The entire story was delightfully plotted handling the current mystery, questioning some things from the past, and looking forward to the future for Nora and Nick.

Murder Faux Paws is a captivating cozy with a fascinating cat and a diverse cast surrounding him. I am excited for this series to continue and for Nora to learn just a teeny tiny bit of restraint. Oh who am I kidding, she is never going to change and she is going to scare the heck out of us again and again. And I will keep coming back for more. 🙂

Every time I read a book in this series I feel the need to watch The Thin Man again. I may have to dig out my copy.


Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About T.C. LoTempio

T.C. Lotempio is the national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora mystery series, as well as the Pet Shop Mystery Series and the Cat Rescue mysteries.  She lives in sunny Phoenix Arizona along with her two cats, Maxx and ROCCO, who is a talented blogger himself.  Cat-ch up with them at her website, tclotempio.net, or ROCCO’s blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Blog     Website    Facebook   Twitter:  @RoccoBlogger

Purchase Link – Amazon –  B&N  – Google Play  –  Apple iBooks  –  Kobo  –  Smashwords 



TOUR PARTICIPANTS

February 22 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
February 22 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
February 23 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW
February 23 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 24 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 24 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
February 25 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE
February 25 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 26 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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March 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
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March 3 – Tea Book Blanket – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
March 3 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours You Read How Many Books Challenge

The Secret in the Wall: A Novel (Silver Rush Mysteries) by Ann Parker #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour –


The Secret in the Wall: A Novel (Silver Rush Mysteries)
by Ann Parker

About The Secret In The Wall


The Secret in the Wall: A Novel (Silver Rush Mysteries)
Historical Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – California
Poisoned Pen Press (February 15, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1464214948
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1464214943
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B096L9XZ73

Sometimes you can’t keep your gown out of the gutter…

Inez Stannert has reinvented herself—again. Fleeing the comfort and wealth of her East Coast upbringing, she became a saloon owner and cardsharp in the rough silver boomtown of Leadville, Colorado, always favoring the unconventional path—a difficult road for a woman in the late 1800s.

Then the teenage daughter of a local prostitute is orphaned by her mother’s murder, and Inez steps up to raise the troubled girl as her own. Inez works hard to keep a respectable, loving home for Antonia, carefully crafting their new life in San Francisco. But risk is a seductive friend, difficult to resist. When a skeleton tumbles from the wall of her latest business investment, the police only seem interested in the bag of Civil War-era gold coins that fell out with it. With her trusty derringer tucked in the folds of her gown, Inez uses her street smarts and sheer will to unearth a secret that someone has already killed to keep buried. The more she digs, the muddier and more dangerous things become.

She enlists the help of Walter de Brujin, a local private investigator with whom she shares some history. Though she wants to trust him, she fears that his knowledge of her past, along with her growing attraction to him, may well blow her veneer of respectability to bits—that is, if her dogged pursuit of the truth doesn’t kill her first . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Inez Stannert and her ward Antonia have moved from Colorado to San Francisco in this 8th book in the Silver Rush Mysteries. Inez owns D&S House of Music and Oriental Curiosities and she invests in businesses run by women like Moira Krause’s and her boardinghouse. They have purchased the joined home next to her existing property and Moira hopes to be able to double the number of tenants she can host. Moira insisted on a special ceremony to complete the sale and knock the wall that will connect the two properties but the event didn’t quite go as planned. When the sledgehammer broke through the wall a skeleton and a bag of gold coins cascaded out of the wall. When the authorities put all their attention on the coins Inez decides to investigate the body. Why would someone hide a body within the walls? What secret was that person hiding? Working with a PI from her past they try to get the answers before it is too late.


I first have to say this is the 8th book in the series and the first I have read but I escaped right into it very easily. The author gives enough backstory for new readers to understand the characters and their relationships without giving away too much that would deter those readers from going back and reading the previous books.

Inez Stannert is a unique individual, especially for a woman in the late 1800s. Savvy and street smart she makes herself at home with men and women alike. She is respected and driven to help others to succeed. She is also is doing her best to raise a strong-willed pre-teen ward who tests her a lot in this story. I really enjoyed the young amateur sleuths of Antonia and Moira’s daughter Charlotte and their scheming ways to spend time together to search the Treasure House. I really felt for Antonia when she made a horrific discovery and did her best to keep a stiff upper lip when you know a 12-year-old should never have to see such a thing even back in the 1800s.  All of Ms. Parker’s characters are dynamically written with multiple layers some of which are kept well hidden or slowly revealed.

The mystery the author wrapped her characters in was so well-plotted laced with well-referenced historical facts of California’s part in the Civil War. It really brings an authentic feel to the book and the secrets many people were holding. Moira’s boardinghouse and the house next door were right in the middle of so much of that history. The discoveries made by Inez and the girls were so enveloping. Ms. Parker really brought the place to life with her descriptive style. I truly felt as if I was taking each step right along with the characters. I could also tell she weighed each word to make sure they presented each scene perfectly.

Ann Parker takes her readers on quite an adventure in The Secret in the Wall. If you like historical mysteries I think you would enjoy this story and encourage you to pick it up. I also think the author would have no trouble creating a young adult series featuring Antonia. She is a character that I would love to keep reading about. That girl could have a wild future.

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About Ann Parker

Ann Parker is a science writer by day and fiction writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush Mysteries series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, a Sourcebooks imprint, is set primarily in 1880s Leadville, Colorado, and more recently in San Francisco, California, the “Paris of the West.” The series was named a Booksellers Favorite by the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, and Ann is listed in the Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame. The Secret in the Wall is the eighth and newest entry in the series.

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

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Absence of Mallets (A Fixer-Upper Mystery) by Kate Carlisle #Review


Absence of Mallets (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – California
Berkley (December 7, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593201337
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593201336
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08Y8BFNML

Contractor Shannon Hammer steels her nerve to pin down a killer in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Premeditated Mortar. . . .

Shannon could not be happier that her hunky thriller-writing boyfriend, Mac, has moved in, and it is a good thing they are living together because they are both busier than ever. Mac is hosting writing retreats at his now vacant lighthouse mansion, while Shannon and her crew build Homefront, a quaint Victorian village of tiny homes for veterans in need. Mac’s latest guests are proving to be a handful though, and Shannon has heard some grumbling from the luminaries of Lighthouse Cove about her latest passion project. But nothing can throw a wrench in their plans except a malicious murder.

When one of Shannon’s new friends is found brutally bludgeoned with a mallet near the lighthouse on Mac’s property, the couple hammers out a suspect list and searches for a motive. As they drill deeper for clues, more violence strikes and a new victim winds up in a coma. The pressure is on, and Shannon and Mac will have to move fast to find an unhinged killer dead set on demolishing anyone who gets in their way. . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Shannon and Mac are both super busy but now that they are living together they are assured of running into each other eventually. He is in the throes of writing a new book and trying to keep a handle on the latest group of authors staying at the lighthouse mansion for a two-week writing retreat. Sharon has a huge new project that is near and dear to both her and Mac. Shannon’s crew is building 50 tiny Victorian-style homes for needy veterans. The little village already has a community center addressing all kinds of needs for the veterans including classes both Shannon and Mac are teaching. Shannon’s sister is also back in town willing to help Shannon in any way she can. Sadly, Shannon is going to need her help for more than her building and decorating expertise. She is going to need her to help find the killer who bludgeoned her new tile artist and friend to death and left her lying on the beach just waiting for the tides to wash her out to sea. Shannon, Mac, and Chloe need to hammer out the details quickly because more violence takes place and someone else gets hurt. The mallets are the key, if they find those they know they will find the killer.


I really enjoy this series and there were so many great things in this story. Shannon and Mac are in a really good and comfortable place. Chloe is taking major steps in her career so she will be in town more as she and police chief Eric plan their wedding. The town is taking a huge step to help homeless veterans even though they are getting a little interference from a few residents. These core characters truly feel like old friends. I live a little vicariously through Shannon remembering the short time I worked in home construction. Being in an occupation dominated by men isn’t easy but Shannon is killing it and goes out of her way to help more women get into the field. Her class at the community center in this story really made me happy.

Of course, with the good comes the bad. Mac’s current writing group is so bad. Selfish, irresponsible, and creepy doesn’t really cover the group but it’s a start. Then we have the murder of a woman who seemed to be a wonderful human being and an attack on another with a huge heart. This cast of characters was so well written. They invoked all the emotions the author intended so easily. I had a hard time adjusting after the victim was revealed. We just met her and just started to see her artistry and she was gone. This was nicely played by the author. Readers and characters alike were invested in seeing her get justice.

That being said there really were a limited number of truly viable suspects. Being new in town she knew only a few people so I found it easy to hone in on the right individual after a few clues were revealed. What I really enjoyed was the way Eric, Mac, Shannon, and Chloe worked together. Eric has learned to trust Shannon’s instincts and that makes the story even better.

I really appreciated the message/theme of the story. The plight of homeless vets is heartbreaking and Lighthouse Cove has made them a priority building the village of Homefront. The community center is wonderful with classes, counselors, and even a cafe, plus there is room to offer more services. If only more communities in real life could follow in these footsteps.

While the mystery wasn’t as complex as other books in this series, Absence of Mallets is my favorite book so far. Murder and mayhem aside, it is a feel-good story. The perfect book to read after the holiday season. It warmed my heart seeing what good people can do and as I turned the last page I had a huge smile on my face.

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Read my Reviews for the whole series. 

Book 1 – A High End Finish here

Book 2 – This Old Homicide here.

Book 3 – Crowned and Moldering here.

Book 4 – Deck the Hallways here

Book 5 – Eaves of Destruction here

Book 6 – A Wrench in the Works here.

Book 7 – Shot Through The Hearth here

Book 8 – Premeditated Mortar here.

Read more about Kate and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries at www.KateCarlisle.com!



Also by Kate Carlisle



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.” Publisher is not offering giveaways due to COVID 19.

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Cozy Wednesday featuring Essentials of Murder (Aromatherapy Apothecary) by Kim Davis #Review / #Giveaway @Kookiesandbooks

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am excited to feature Essentials of Murder by Kim Davis today!


Essentials of Murder (Aromatherapy Apothecary)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Kindred Ink Press LLC (September 8, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1951579461
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1951579463
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09BBLP2C2

Following a scandal that chased her from San Francisco, Carissa Carmichael struggles to find acceptance in her small Southern California hometown as she opens her aromatherapy and reflexology shop.

When she finds a man murdered in her distilling room, Carissa becomes the main suspect, especially when her fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. Despite her father’s position as Oak Creek Valley’s chief of police, most townspeople assume she’s guilty—including the new leading detective.

Refusing to run again, Carissa knows she must prove her innocence to save her shop and her family’s reputation. With suspects acting as slippery as the essential oils she distills, it’s up to Carissa to apply pressure and sniff out the truth before it’s too late.

If you like your cozies with quirky hometown characters, small-town California charm, recipes, and essential oil and reflexology tips, Book 1 in the Aromatherapy Apothecary cozy mystery series is for you. Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Carissa Carmichael returns home after leaving San Francisco in hopes of leaving her recent past behind. With the support of family and friends, she strives to open an aromatherapy and reflexology shop but before she can even host her grand opening she finds a dead body right next to her distilling equipment and her fingerprints are the only ones on the murder weapon. Her chief of police father is forced off the case and the new lead detective feels his investigation is easy because he is convinced she is the killer. She now knows it is essential to catch the killer herself or to get rubbed out permanently.


Kim Davis excels in creating multifaceted characters that readers are drawn to almost immediately. Take Carissa, she has a bit of a checkered past that has probably given her father some gray hair, and in the San Francisco case, a situation that could come back to bite him in the future. She did make a great friend and mentor in Mari Kemp while there and Mari has come to town too now to help her open her shop. Cari also reconnects and hires a friend from high school who is a marketing whiz but she needs more help than just the job. Ashley is a character that really grabbed me and I can’t wait to see her life hopefully change in positive ways.  We are introduced to a couple of possible romantic interests, a jerk detective, and other interesting residents of the California small town too. All are well-crafted, essential to the plot, and interesting in their own ways.

I really enjoy the way Ms. Davis tells a story. This mystery was filled with twists and turns. The victim really had issues that served up a nice list of possible suspects. The detective had ulterior motives that really tested everyone involved. Some strange land deals play into the mix and Cari tries to so be a good friend to many while trying to follow her dad’s orders to stay safe. The dialogues between the cast are both dynamic and true to life. But it is her delightful descriptive writing style that really makes her story so enjoyable. She can set a scene that paints a vivid picture in your mind while never being overly wordy. She seems to weigh each word and phrase carefully to really make them count. Readers can tell she did her research and knows her theme. The information she imparts about essential oils is so well presented. You can almost smell them too.

You can’t have a Kim Davis cozy mystery without some emphasis on food and let me tell you, all the trips Carissa made to the bakery down the street had me virtually adding pounds to my own body. Then again they could be actual pounds because she includes the recipe for Jasper’s Triple Chocolate Rolls in the back of the book. She also includes an Aromatherapy Basic Care Guide that I found very helpful and renewed my interest in essential oils.

This series is off to a marvelous start with Essentials for Murder. I can’t wait for book #2.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband. When she’s not chasing her new puppy or spending time with her granddaughters she can be found either writing stories or working on her blog, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder or in the kitchen baking up yummy treats.  She has published the suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, and cozy mystery, SPRINKLES OF SUSPICION, CAKE POPPED OFF, and FRAMED AND FROSTED. She also has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Author Links – Website  – Facebook  – Twitter: – Goodreads  – Pinterest – Blog

Also by Kim Davis

Written as K.A. Davis

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

                                  

 

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Frosted Yuletide Murder (Cupcake Catering Mystery Series) by Kim Davis #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @Kookiesandbooks

Frosted Yuletide Murder (Cupcake Catering Mystery Series)
by Kim Davis

About Frosted Yuletide Murder


Frosted Yuletide Murder (Cupcake Catering Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cinnamon & Sugar Press (December 17, 2021)
Digital ~300 Pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09M939WKD

Set against the holiday cheer of twinkling lights, costumed carolers, and a festive line of extravagantly decorated boats participating in the annual Christmas boat parade in Newport Beach, California, cupcake caterer Emory Martinez finds that the grinch has crashed the party. Together with her sister Carrie, Emory is catering a delectable feast of holiday cupcakes and cookies aboard a luxury yacht for the new Mrs. Blair Villman and her guests.

Sparks fly when Carrie comes face-to-face with the hostess, who just happens to be Carrie’s high school frenemy, and old grievances are dredged up. Adding fuel to the fire, Blair’s stepson brings his mother, the former Mrs. Villman, to the party. Instead of celebrating holiday cheer, someone seems intent on channeling the Burgermeister Meisterburger and shutting down Blair’s party permanently. When Emory finds a body aboard the yacht, she needs to discover who iced the victim before the Scrooge ruins not only her livelihood but her freedom as well.

Includes delicious holiday recipes.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I absolutely love this series! 

Christmas time in California is so different from what I am used to here in the midwest so I escaped right into this book looking for sun, warmth, holiday cheer, and a lively mystery and Ms. Davis gave me a wonderful holiday gift.

Emory Martinez is excited to serve up cookies and cupcakes at a party her sister Carrie is catering for a mystery client on a luxury yacht. That is until she learns the hostess of the party is a bully from Carrie’s high school days. Emory quickly learns Mrs. Blair Villman now has a glamorous lifestyle but she is still a bully and maybe even worse than she was in high school. Both Carrie and Emory do their best to keep their cool as Blair hurls her insults but they are not the only ones receiving the gift of Blair’s rath. Her stepson brought his mother to the party and Blair is livid.

Carrie’s catering contract also required she serve brunch the next day again on the yacht. She and Em arrive early to get the dishes baked and ready. Everything was going as planned until Emory opens the freezer and finds a body. This job has just been a nightmare and now they are sure to be on the suspect list. So she has to find the killer before she or her sister get frosted for a murder they didn’t commit.


The author has created such a sensational cast of realistic characters. Emory is a great protagonist with a lot on her plate even before the murder. Carrie is still struggling with a new baby in the house. Tillie is always on the go but always ready to help Emory sleuth out a killer. The supporting cast is diverse and interesting. Their interactions are all believable and the dialogue is crisp. Tillie is my hand-down favorite. She has a huge heart and loves to be surrounded by family and friends. She also always knows the right people to visit to get answers to move the case along. She is a spunky woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it and she is a very good soul.

I found the mystery to be pretty complex. Emory worked hard to speak to everyone on her suspect list. Emory knowing the detective on the case, another strong woman, brings a nice element to this story. Detective Natasha Tran is open-minded and didn’t believe Emory and Carrie killed anyone but she always does things by the book. So of course she didn’t want Emory involving herself in her case. I really enjoyed the back and forth between these characters. In the end, Emory makes a mistake that leads up to a very exciting ending. Again, the author frosted my cookies with the way everything played out.  I have become invested in these characters and when one or more of them are in peril it moves me to the edge of my seat.

The reason I have become invested in these characters is that they are well developed and we get an in-depth look into their lives. This time a visitor arrives from across the pond and there is an interesting turn of events for another character. Throughout the book, there are plenty of family moments and times away from the murder investigation. All these moments flowed seamlessly with the mystery.

Ms. Davis is such an outstanding storyteller. Everyone has known or dealt with a bully in our lives so it is so easy to identify with Carrie and Emory and what they felt dealing with Blair, so that draws you into the story right away. After that, the author pulls you in even tighter with the murder and then you find you just can’t put this book down. You just have to know what happens next. And along with all that Emory continues to bake cupcakes. So now your mind isn’t just engaged with the story, your taste buds are tickled too, just wanting a taste, a bite, or alright, the whole darn cupcake.  I have learned my lesson from reading the previous books in this series. I made sure there were cupcakes in the house before I started reading. They weren’t homemade but they did the trick. Just don’t ask how many I ate by the end. That is a secret I will never reveal.

Every book in the Cupcake Catering Mystery Series is fantastic. You can jump right into this holiday read but they are best read in order to get to know these superb characters. This is the third book in this series to make my yearly Best Reads List. I can’t wait to return to Newport Beach to see what these ladies get into next.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About Kim Davis

Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband. When she’s not chasing her new puppy or spending time with her granddaughters she can be found either writing stories or working on her blog, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder or in the kitchen baking up yummy treats.  She has published the suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, and cozy mystery, SPRINKLES OF SUSPICION, CAKE POPPED OFF, and FRAMED AND FROSTED. She also has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Author Links – Website  – Facebook  – Twitter: – Goodreads  – Pinterest – Blog

Purchase Link – Amazon 
The Rest of the Series

Also by this author 

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