Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2012

Cozy Wednesday With Author Julie Hyzy (Giveaway too!)

Welcome To Cozy Wednesday!

It’s been about a year since Julie stopped by for a visit and then it was over at Dollycas’s Thoughts. I am thrilled to welcome here today. I love the way she writes! Whether it be Ollie at The White House or Grace at Marshfield Manor, I am always excited when a new book comes out. Those ladies always have a unique way of getting right in the middle of the mayhem.  

It’s a little hot and sticky in the Midwest today so help yourself to a glass of ice cold lemonade and pull up a chair as we visit with Julie today.

Hi Julie!!

Hi Everyone! I am happy to be here.

My love affair with Marshall Field’s

By Julie Hyzy

From time I was very little, I’ve loved Marshall Field’s. The flagship State Street department store in Chicago loomed large in my life especially around Christmas when my mother would take me and my little brother there to visit Santa, marvel at the decorated (and animated) windows, and stroll through the toy store.  We didn’t eat under the enormous Christmas tree in the Walnut Room back then, mostly because such a luxury was out of my parents’ reach at that point. Honestly, my brother and I never thought twice about it. We got to see the sparkling tree through the windows in the floor above the restaurant, and really—what more did we need?

When I started college at Loyola University I got a part time job at a bank on State and Wacker after classes each day—just about a block away from Field’s. That job turned into summer employment and an eventual full time position after graduation. I spent almost every lunch hour at Marshall Field’s. I loved that store and grew to know it very, very well. From the cosmetics and fragrances on the first floor, through the furniture high on eight and nine, I had the place memorized. Back then I had an aunt who worked in the candy kitchen making delicious Frango Mints. She invited me to come up to the very top floors to visit—and to watch the chocolates being created—and it was my first time up in the off-limits areas of the massive store. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

When my husband and I got engaged, we registered at Field’s. There was no other serious contender to my mind. When our daughters  were born—and then old enough­—we took them to Field’s at Christmastime, thus bringing traditions full circle. And trips into the city weren’t complete without lunch in The English Room, a loving gaze up at the Tiffany ceiling, and a purchase of Frango Mints to enjoy on the ride home.

Things change. We all know that. And as much as I like Macy’s in New York, I sincerely wish it had remained there. It’s a great destination—a real jewel of the city. But it belongs in New York. Not in Chicago, and not in our former flagship store. Marshall Field’s was taken over by Macy’s in 2005 and the State Street store was renamed in 2006. Some good news: The brass nameplate on the State Street store’s building is considered an historic landmark. It can’t be removed. That’s something. And the iconic Marshall Field clocks on the building’s corners are still there. Also good. But the store, as we all knew and loved it, is gone.

Why am I telling you all this today—and what does it have to do with my newest Manor House Mystery, Grace Among Thieves?

Well, if you’ve read any of the books so far, you know that Grace’s boss is Bennett Marshfield—of Marshfield Manor. Yep, I named the estate in honor of my beloved store, in gratitude for all the wonderful memories it’s provided to me and my family over the years.

 

When you read Grace Under Pressure, Grace Interrupted,or the new Grace Among Thieves, you can feel how much Marshfield means to Grace. I drew on my own deep love for Marshall Field’s to write that part of the story. Although the mansion doesn’t resemble the store in the least, the feel is the same. There’s so much to explore, so much to experience. History and mystery. In abundance.

I know that the store is gone, but the happiness it brought me lives on. And, in my own small way, I’m hoping to keep the memory alive, not just for myself but for everyone who still misses our beloved Marshall Field’s.

I hope you’ll come visit my Marshfield Manor. Come for the tour… stay for the murder!

Website page with Marshall Field Clock
http://www.juliehyzy.com/ebooks.html

~Julie

Thank you so much Julie for sharing that wonderful story!

All About Julie*
Julie Hyzy is the New York Times bestselling author of the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries. She won the Barry and Anthony Awards for Best Paperback Original for State of the Onion in 2009, and the Lovey, the Derringer, and the Phobos awards for her novels and short stories. Her first Manor House Mystery, Grace Under Pressure, earned a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. Julie loves to read, eat out, and watch old movies and TV shows with her husband and three daughters.

 

Grace Among Thieves

Grace Among Thieves
(A Manor House Mystery)

3rd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group

Cover Illustration by Kimberly Schamber
Cover Design by Rita Frangie

 

Grace has her hands full. There is film crew making a souvenir movie of Marshfield Manor and the owner’s stepdaughter has dropped by for an unexpected visit. The last thing she needs is the news she received from former professor. Apparently historic places like Marshfield Manor are being targeted by thieves. She is confident in their security team until a guest is murdered and another one shot. There is just not enough manpower to spread around.

Grace has reason to believe the killer and thieves are lurking about. The two things may even be connected. She will do anything for Marsheild Manor and its owner even if it means putting herself in danger.  Grace my just find herself armed and dangerous.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I couldn’t wait to read this story. I have become invested in the people at Marshfield Manor. Grace, Frances, Bennett and even Hillary. They is never a dull moment when she is around.

Grace again gets involved in all the drama with all the best intentions. Frances tries to keep everyone in line and Bennett watches over everyone.

The author reeled me in with this one and had me hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. So much excitement and suspense I forgot it was a cozy!

Julie Hyzy writes wonderful stories and each one is better than the last. If you were waiting for this one like me you will really enjoy it. If this is a new author for you start at the beginning, read them in order, and enjoy. I can’t wait to she what kind of trouble Grace gets into next!!


Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Would you like to win a copy of this fabulous book??

Thanks to the people at Berkley Prime Crime
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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

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

Leave a comment for Julie for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End July 4, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

*From Amazon.com

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Reviews 2012

Cozy Wednesday With Author Alyse Carlson (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I “met” today’s author back in January when she posted the beautiful cover of this book on Facebook. I loved the idea of a Garden Society Mystery. I added the cover to my Recommendations Page as a book “I Can’t Wait To Read!” and we set up a date for her to visit. TODAY!!! Please help yourself to some iced tea and help me give Alyse a Cozy Welcome.

Hi Alyse!

Hi Everyone!

A Cozy Voice

I have to confess to being a little intimidated to be here. Lori is so organized and has such amazing guests that I feel a little like a fraud, but there you have it. Have you all watched Neil Gaiman’s commencement address? For anyone creating art and trying to make a living at it, it is worth the time to listen, but those Fraud Police really spoke to me! What if it’s discovered I’m just… you know… a poser?! An insane person trying to pass myself off as an author!

At the same time, I’ve never discovered a genre that my voice slid into quite so easily as Cozy Mystery, so I suppose I will take some assurance there.

What Exactly IS a Cozy Voice? (and why does it suit a nut quite as well as it does?)
In a nut shell, it is the ability to be silly and still make a point… to travel a complicated path, taking people with me, and to make sure they feel like they are playing along the way.

When I first had it suggested I should write cozy mysteries, I hadn’t even HEARD of them (that’s terrible, yes?). I mean when my friend DESCRIBED them, I recognized them instantly… and knew them as my favorite sort of mysteries… not because I’m squeamish—I can handle the gore or the swearing or the sex that this genre puts as taboo… but I preferred the mystery where I UNDERSTOOD the DETAILS! Where the characters were approachable and I wanted to hang out with them.

I’m not a cop. I’m not a detective. I am not a forensic specialist or pathologist (even though honestly, they are often my favorite television characters). I was terrified at the idea of writing a mystery because I didn’t feel like I knew enough… But do you KNOW how liberating an amateur sleuth is? Heck, SHE doesn’t know anything EITHER! I can write whole books without knowing ANYTHING! *cough*

Okay, so maybe not. Mysteries are really very carefully plotted… But I don’t have to know the LANGUAGE initially, for a crime scene… I can learn it as I go. I don’t have to necessarily be methodical… I mean HECK! Our sleuths get into this game because someone they care about is accused of MURDER! How many of us would really stay totally rational in that situation? How methodical is it rational to BE and still have a likeable sleuth?

The other thing though, that is so fun about Cozy Mysteries, is that there is an expectation of humor… of nuttiness… of whimsy. Most often this is character quirk or situational—the side characters are really allowed (encouraged?) to be a zany sort. And I LOVE zany characters… especially when their zaniness creates low-level, and therefore humorous conflict.

Take Petunia, for instance. Camellia Harris (Cam, my sleuth) has a sister who is prickly… a reverse snob. She hates everything that gives a status she sees as false. Rich people? Pretty people? Educated people? They ALL annoy Petunia. Petunia loves charity cases and basket cases. Unfortunately, Cam happens to WORK WITH a garden society made up of the community’s prestigious and wealthy. And hires her sister and brother-in-law to cater because she is loyal that way… Conflict potential all around!

Cam’s father, too… a sixty-something babe-magnet… every middle aged woman in the room eyes him with longing… And he definitely earns it—self deprecating charm. But it is a bit of a hornet’s nest if more than one of your bosses is after the same man who happens to be your father…

You can see what I mean. I’ve had a blast setting this up. Sometimes the quirks feed into the murder mystery, sometimes not, but they add texture to the series, and humor to the tale. So it’s possible I’m a fraud, but I am sure having a ball getting away with it!

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for the author some of you may know as Hart Johnson. She writes books from her bathtub and when she isn’t writing, does research for a large, midwest University or leads the Naked World Domination Movement (your choice).

Check out Alyse’s  blog:  Confessions of a Watery Tart.

~Alyse

Alyse you are most definitely not a fraud. You have a wonderful cozy voice. You are also an AMAZING Guest!! The door is always open. I hope you come back to visit often!!

The Azalea Assault
(A Garden Society Mystery)

A BRAND NEW SERIES!
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery]
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group

Cover Design by Catherine Deeter
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell

The Azalea Assault

Cam Harris loves her job as public relations manager for the Roanoke Garden Society. It allows her to combine her three loves, spinning the press, showing off her favorite town, and promoting her favorite activity. She’s just achieved a huge coup by enlisting Garden Delights, the country’s premiere gardening magazine, to feature the exquisite garden of RGS founder, Neil Patrick. She’s even managed to enlist world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges. Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques is a first-rate cad—insulting the RGS members and gardening, goosing every woman in the room, and drinking like a lush. It is hardly a surprise when he turns up dead. But when Cam’s brother-in-law is accused and her sister begs her to solve the crime, that is when things really get prickly.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is a wonderful debut.  

Carlson has created some fantastic characters that we quickly fall for. Cam is quick witted and smart, the perfect protagonist. Petunia is lovable, funny and set in her ways. Nick, the reformed ex-con, loves his wife and is her great protector. Her friend Annie bakes cupcakes, need I say more. Cam’s father makes women swoon and Rob has eyes for just one woman.  Jean-Jacques was the perfect victim, if he goosed me I may have done him in myself!

The story is delightful with a mystery that keeps us tip toeing through the azaleas to pick up all the clues. Nancy Drew has nothing on Miss Camillia Harris. Take some time to stop of smell the flowers for this first installment of what I know will be a very fragrant series. The Begonia Bribe will be coming soon!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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

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

Leave a comment for Alyse for 5 Bonus Entries!

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

Contest Will End June 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in Reviews 2012

Review: The Diva Digs Up The Dirt by Krista Davis


The Diva Digs Up the Dirt
(A Domestic Diva Mystery)

6th Book In Series

A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group

Cover Illustration by Teresa Fasolino
Cover Design by Diane Kolsky

The Diva Digs Up the Dirt (A Domestic Diva Mystery)


All Sophie wants to do is sit back and relax and enjoy her one week of vacation. Natasha is not going to let that happen. She has plans to become a television star and she is going to use Sophie’s backyard to put her plan in motion. She has entered Sophie to be on the show Tear It With Troy and Sophie has won a backyard makeover.

Natasha has things under control and is driving the host Troy absolutely crazy. It is the perfect time for Sophie to make her getaway. She decides she is going to hideout, I mean head over, to her boyfriend Wolf’s house to replace a dead rose bush that she was planning to do to surprise him before all the hoopla landed at her house.

Sophie quickly learns “no good deed goes unpunished” when she digs up more than a dead rose bush. She also digs up a purse and according to the information inside it belongs to Wolf’s wife, his wife that has been missing for years.

Things don’t look good for Wolf. Of course he is the number one suspect. His mother-in-law running around town saying he murdered her daughter doesn’t help matters. Our Domestic Diva is on the case. She will dig up the clues to lead her to the real culprit.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have to admit I was laughing out loud for many parts of this book. This is not your typical murder mystery or even typical cozy mystery. It is so freaking good!!:) It is a little dark in places and has crazy twists and turns. I was even a little tearful a couple times.

I just love Sophie. She is an independent woman that doesn’t back down to a challenge and she knows when to pick her battles. The last thing she wanted was her backyard bulldozed but decided a makeover may not be an awful idea. Plus it kept Natasha busy, she really needs to get her house keys back from that woman.

There were a few interesting characters in this installment but Desdemona was by far the most curious. I won’t call her a stalker but she definitely was a lurker. Showing up in unexpected places.

There is also more than murder happening around this town, a expensive piece of art goes missing, a plethora of poisoning seems to be occurring, and what the heck is that smell.

Krista Davis has a winner on her hands. The Diva Digs Up the Dirt is a fresh and exciting who-dun-it you won’t be able to put down.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find Out More About Krista Davis check out her website.

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 Reviews 2012

Review: Firefly Beach by Meira Pentermann (Giveaway too!)

2012 self published mystery

Firefly Beach
Published by CreateSpace

Firefly Beach

Beth is having a terrible time. Her 40th birthday is quickly approaching, her mother died the previous December from a heart attack, right before Christmas, and her husband asked her for a divorce in January.

The divorce was finalized in May, her husband moved out months ago. Beth was boxing up her things to move to an apartment when she came across several paintings. Paintings she had done when she was a junior in high school. She had planned to go to an art college in Boston, maybe moving to a small town in the northeast and painting the rocky coastlines and lighthouses. Sometime her senior year these dreams were forgotten and she went to the University of New Mexico to study economics. She met her husband, got her MBA and moved up the corporate ladder.

There really was nothing keeping her in New Mexico. Is it too late to follow her dreams? She grabs an old atlas, closes her eyes, aims for the east coast and she lands on Virginia Point, Maine. A small town with a population of just over 1500. She spends a couple of days on the internet and finds a cottage to rent. Then she sets off for Maine.

She wants to just be alone and paint but something mysterious changes her plans. The spirit of Firefly Beach takes her on an adventure.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I sat down with this book one night last week. I planned to read just a few chapters before bed. The next thing I knew it was just past 1 a.m. and I had finished the book. The book had me in a trance, time had passed but was actually hours seemed like minutes. I had been tired but don’t recall yawning one time. I finished the book and felt refreshed. Yes the clock said go to sleep but my mind was still wrapped up in this story.

Meira’s writing has almost a tranquil lyrical flow. The characters are extremely engaging, the mystery creative and the setting idyllic. If you could read a painting this is the story it would tell. The whole story is absolutely magical.

Beth is on a journey, an emotional journey. The people she finds in her path are quirky, lovable, flawed and real. Her character evolves as do all of the others.

I write all about “Escaping Into A Good Book”. This is a book that is beyond the perfect escape. Book your passage now, this is a trip you will not want to miss. This book should be on everyone’s summer reading list. Escape into Firefly Beach.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
The author is giving away 1 copy of this wonderful book!!
U.S.  RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.Contest Will End June 22, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2012

Cozy Wednesday With Laura Bradford (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

Today’s guest is one of my favorite authors! She creates rich characters and friendships in her stories that draw you in and make you care for each of them. She is a truly gifted writer and I am so excited to welcome her here today. The first book in her new Amish Mystery series was released yesterday. Hearse and Buggy is an awesome story. She is here to give us a little insight on how the new series was born. Ruth from the Shoo Fly Bake Shoppe in Heavenly, Pennsylvania has sent us some virtual sweets to eat, so relax, help yourself and help me welcome Laura Bradford.

Welcome Laura!!

Thanks Lori! Hi Everyone!

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved the smell of all things new—new cars, the first few drops of a spring rain, new erasers, new babies…

If I stop and think about it though, it’s not the smell of new that appeals to me as much as the new beginning part…

New car = new places to travel.

First few drops of a spring rain = new flowers to smell and new puddles to splash in.

New erasers = fixing mistakes that come from having the courage to try.

New babies = vast potential and the comfort of hope.

So I guess it’s really no surprise that I’ve been beside myself with excitement over the launch of my brand new endeavor, the Amish Mysteries. Hearse and Buggy, the first title in the series, released this week and I couldn’t be any happier.

Fantastic Cover!

As a little girl, I remember being fascinated by the rare sighting of an Amish child—their clothes, their shoes, their life so different that mine. But unlike the momentary gawking you’d expect from most kids when faced with someone or something so different than their norm, my fascination was one I was eager to explore. Why did they wear those hats? Why didn’t they wear a pretty necklace? I mean, they look just like us, but they dress, they behave, they live so differently.

Little did I know, at that time, that one day I’d not only be in a position to find those answers, but also live that life…at least by way of my writing.

My work on the Amish Mysteries allows me both opportunities.

Two different times over the past year, I’ve traveled down to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to learn everything I can about the old world Amish in that area. I’ve toured homes, read books, observed their comings and goings, and listened as those far more knowledgeable than me share their wisdom. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot. And I want to learn more.

My series’ protagonist, Claire Weatherly, enables me to live alongside the Amish just as she does—learning their ways, and drawing them close as I do.

I’ve been excited about every book I’ve ever written for one reason or another—a particular plot, a favorite character, a picturesque setting. But Hearse and Buggy (and all of the Amish Mysteries) have jettisoned that first-book excitement into a different stratosphere altogether.

I love the world I’ve created inside Heavenly, PA. I want to work in Claire’s gift shop. I want to be nearby when she and her Amish employee, Esther, are talking. I want to catch my breath along with Claire when Detective Jakob Fisher (former Amish) and his long ago childhood friend, Benjamin Miller, walk by. I want to try Ruth Miller’s Shoo Fly Pie.

And I want to see where these characters take me—and my readers—in the books to come.

I hope you’ll take the journey with me.

~Laura

About This Author
Laura Bradford is the author of the new Amish Mysteries (Berkley/Penguin). Hearse and Buggy, the first book in the series, is now available. For more information about Laura (and her work on this series as well as the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries as Elizabeth Lynn Casey), visit her website:  www.laurabradford.com. There, you can read chapter one of  Hearse and Buggy and stay apprised of Laura’s events and all news pertinent to the series (including some fun Amish facts on the “extras” page).

2012 best new cozy series

Hearse and Buggy
(An Amish Mystery)

Brand New Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Mary Ann Lasher
Cover Design by Sarah Oberrender

Hearse and Buggy

 

Heavenly, Pennsylvania has become home to Claire Weatherly. She lives with her aunt Diane who runs Sleep Heavenly Bed & Breakfast. She has left behind her old life in Manhattan and find herself the owner of Heavenly Treasures on Lighted Way where she sells Amish crafted items.  Her store is right next to the Shoo Fly Bake Shoppe where Ruth Miller bakes up and sells her tasty treats.

Ruth is a Amish woman with two very protective brothers, Eli and Benjamin. They try to keep a close eye on both her and her business and they are very upset when she seems to be the target of someone doing their best to frighten her by leaving notes and breaking milk bottles on her porch.

The town is shocked when the former owner of Claire’s shop is found murdered in the alley between the two stores. He was not liked by many and had been accused cheating the Amish artists who consigned their works with him to sell. The accusation was made loudly and heard by many. The accuser was none other than Ruth’s brother Eli.

The detective on the case is Jakob Fisher. Jakob was brought up Amish and after his Rumspringa returned and was baptized.  Then he decided her really wanted to work in law enforcement so he left his Amish roots behind. Because he was baptized and then left he was shunned by his family. The family that is part of the Heavenly Amish Community. He hits several roadblocks as he tries to investigate the murder because the Amish won’t talk to him. Clare has made friends with many in the Amish Community and offers to be his go-between.

The peaceful town of Heavenly is not very peaceful as Clare finds out much more than she wanted about her neighbors. There is much more going on here than just a few bottles of spilled milk and she is determined to get to the bottom of it!

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Laura Bradford is an amazing author! She has created captivating characters in an unique setting that I just know you will love. The Simple Life of the Amish is fascinating to many as we wonder how these people who look just like us live the way we do. Laura is giving us a chance to see how the Amish and the English live and work side by side.

Clare has a young Amish woman working for her and she sells the treasures crafted by her Amish neighbors. The Amish have shops up and down the way. Lighted Way connects the two ways of life. Tourists come to Heavenly to learn about the Amish culture and purchased their goods. Heavenly, Pennsylvania sounds like a little slice of heaven, well except for the dead body and a bit of vandalism.  

A wonderful complex mystery with a variety of suspects!!

The author has also laid the groundwork for a little romance. The men that send tingles through Claire and Esther has a crush. 

We also need to see what happens between Jakob and his family. Sixteen years have past and there is a great divide.

Think is now my favorite cozy so far this year! If you love cozies like I do you will love this book and like me you will eagerly waiting for the next book in the Amish Mystery Series as soon as you finish this one. Hearse and Buggy is a Heavenly Treasure!!!


Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Berkley Prime Crime
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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

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

Leave a comment for Laura for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End June 20, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Guest Posts Reviews 2012

Cozy Wednesday with Bailey Cates (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I had read other stories by this author and absolutely loved them! As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I was going to enjoy the Magical Bakery Mysteries!! I was so right. We are introduced to wonderful characters in a perfect setting. 

I am so thrilled to have Bailey stop by and visit today. I have mixed up one of the recipes from the book so grab yourself a Cheddar Sage Scone and help me welcome Bailey Cates!!

Hi Bailey!!

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for inviting me to guest here at Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book!

My Magical Bakery Mysteries features Katie Lightfoot. An experienced baker, she’s recently relocated to Savannah, Georgia to escape an engagement gone bad and open the Honeybee Bakery with her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben. Little does she suspect that she’s about to get involved in a murder investigation to clear Ben’s name – and there’s another surprise in store. Aunt Lucy belongs to a spell book club, a group of gentle witches who more or less operate out of the Honeybee.

A coven with an oven, if you will. I’d like to introduce them to you.

At seventy-eight, Mimsey Carmichael is the oldest member of the group. The first time Katie meets her she thinks she’s in her early sixties, though. Aunt Lucy swears that her dear friend and mentor appears so young simply because of good humor and clean living. Sporting a pure white pageboy, Mimsey describes herself as comfortably round. She’s a Savannah native and owns a flower shop in the historic district. She’s married, has one daughter, and practices flower and color magic as well as being the best in the spell book club at divination. Oh, and her familiar happens to be a parrot named Heckle.

Lucy Eagel is next in age. She’s the younger sister of Katie’s mother, but they are unfortunately estranged due to a disagreement about their hereditary gift of hedgewitchery. It’s the family “specialty” when it comes to magic and involves kitchen and garden magic as well as a deep understanding of herbal craft. Lucy and Ben have been married for ten years, though like Katie, Lucy is originally from Ohio. She’s short and slim with a mane of graying blond hair and a penchant for batik and patchouli. Her familiar is Honeybee, the orange tabby who inspired the name of the bakery.

Then comes Bianca Devereaux, a single mother of a five-year-old girl whose husband left her when she became a practicing Wiccan. Tall and willowy, with long dark hair and pale skin, Bianca is the witchiest-looking of them all. She owns a wine shop on Factor’s Walk called Moon Grapes, and her favorite magic involves moon spells. Most of her money comes from her ability to capitalize on trends in the stock market. Bianca doesn’t have a familiar.

Jaida French is an African American lawyer whose specialty is tarot magic – meaning she incorporates tarot cards and their meanings into her spell work – and a bit of divination. She has a flair for fashion, a love of fine food, and to Katie she always smells of cinnamon. She lives with another witch – and lawyer – named Gregory and her familiar, a Great Dane named Anubis.

And finally, there’s Cookie Rios. She’s twenty-four, coltish and has a slight Haitian accent from spending her first nine years there. Her father was a voodoo priest and died mysteriously, but Cookie has chosen to practice the kind of magic the rest of the spell book club does – most of the time. She’s not afraid to break the rules, changes jobs – and boyfriends – every three or four months, and doesn’t have a familiar.

And Lucy’s husband, Uncle Ben? Well, he’s not in the spell book club, but he’s very patient – and very lucky to have Katie and the other ladies on his side!

~Bailey

Thank you so much Bailey for introducing us to your fictional friends. I hope you will come back soon and often!!

 

About This Author

Bailey Cates writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries. They feature new witch and baker Katie Lightfoot and are set in Savannah, Georgia. The first in the series, Brownies and Broomsticks, released this month in paperback and ebook formats from NAL/Penguin. She also writes the Home Crafting Mystery Series as Cricket McRae. The sixth in the series, Deadly Row to Hoe, will release this November from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn.

 

For more information, please visit her website www.cricketmcrae.com or check out her blogs at www.hearthcricket.com and www.baileycates.com. You can also find her on Twitter: @cricketmcrae and @writerbailey and on Facebook as Cricket McRae and as Author Bailey Cates.

***************

Brownies and Broomsticks:

A Magical Bakery Mystery
A Brand New Series
An Obsidian Mystery
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group

Katie Lightfoot leaves behind an assistant baker job in Ohio to come to Savannah to work with her Aunt Lucy and  Uncle Ben as they open up the Honeybee Bakery. (The bakery is named after Lucy’s cat.)

While whipping up delectable treats to sell Katie notices Lucy adding mysteries herbs to the recipes. Katie gets quite the surprise when she learns that Aunt Lucy is a witch and these herbal additions are for much more than flavor. The recipes are in fact spells!

After the bakery opens early to cater to the local business group the treasurer tries to stiff them for most of the bill. Ben tells her to fork over the full amount or he will go over her head to the president. After she threatens Ben with running the bakery out of business she storms out.

Within minutes the treasurer is found dead in her car and Uncle Ben is the prime suspect. Lucy and Katie team up with a few of their friends and mix up some spells to prove Ben is innocent and sweep the real killer all the way to jail.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Could there be more perfect witches than those who bake up tasty treats? Plus the book even shares some of their recipes!!

Cates has created an ideal protagonist in Katie Lightfoot and surrounded her with some whimsical characters, including a hunky firefighter and some very special pets. (My hubby was a firefighter way back when, just saying.) She wrapped around them an intriguing mystery in a yummy setting that makes this story a joy to read.

The women in this story are so different from each other and would it not be for the shared trait of witchcraft they probably would not even know each other, let alone become friends. They realize they each have faults and accept each other for who they are. 

The men on the other hand don’t get along as well. Declan, the firefighter, can barely stand to be in the same room as Steve, the reporter. They have a past the fuels their fury but they both care about Katie. 

Lucy and Ben have a strong relationship but both Lucy and Katie have to deal with Katie’s mom’s denial of the “family specialty”.  

Bailey Cates blends this all together masterfully giving us a charming cozy to devour. The bewitching book group and bakery foundations have been set in this first installment and has given us a taste of what’s in store. I can’t wait to see what the author conjures up for us next.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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

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

Leave a comment for Bailey for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End June 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in E-Book Challenge Reviews 2012

Review: Died on the Vine by Joyce Harmon

Died On The Vine
A Passatonnack Winery Mystery
First in the Series

E-BOOK

Cecilla (Cissy) Rayburn and husband Jack have retired to their summer place, a winery in rural Virginia. They are settling into their routines and planning for the future when a man, Obadiah Winslow, shows up at their place and tells Cissy he believes her first husband, Jimmy is alive. Jimmy was killed in the Vietnam War when his plane was shot down. “Colonel” Winslow even has a picture of a man that could be Jimmy.

After he leaves Cissy does a little research and find that Winslow is connected with a group that tries to help families find their loved ones that were classified “Missing In Action”. Before she has time to decide if she wants to pursue Winslow’s claim, he is found dead.  He was murdered and left in the Rayburns vineyard with Jack’s secateurs in his chest. Jack becomes the prime suspect. They thought they left the rat race to relax in the country. To save their days of wine and roses she must find the real killer before Jack is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery! The clipper culprit was quite a surprise.

Cissy sets out to find the killer with the help of her friend Julie. Then they find a very interesting person with quite a bit of information about Colonel Obadiah Winslow. Together they are a team to be reckoned with. Julie is not one to mince words and Cissy calms the waters, which makes for a few humorous moments.

The setting di”vine” and the mystery is clever.

This is the delightful cozy to read with a nice glass of wine while relaxing on the deck on a Spring afternoon. I am looking forward to Harmon pulling the cork on the next installment of this series.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

Posted in What An Animal Reading Challenge

Review: The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

The Big Kitty
(A Sunny & Shadow Mystery)

Brand New Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Tony Mauro
Cover Design by George Long

Meet Sunny Coolidge, a New York journalist who has returned home to Kittery Harbor, Maine, to take care of her father after his heart attack.  She finds work at the local travel agency for Ollie Barnstable a.k.a “Ollie the Barnacle”” but she hopes it is temporary and that she will be able to land a job at a local newspaper.

She is surprised one day when Ada Spuance, the eldery woman everyone calls “the cat lady” comes into the office and asks Sunny to help her find a winning lottery ticket. Sunny is not sure the winning ticket even exists but agrees to help Ada search her cat filled home.  She thinks there may be a story she can write for the paper to impress the editor enough to hire her.

Sunny arrives to begin her search and she has a “Shadow”, a stray tomcat has followed her right up to the house. When there is no answer at the front door they stroll around to the back of the house and find an open entrance to the basement. Her investigative nature pushes her forward and she discovers poor Ada Spuance dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Did her fall have something to do with the lottery ticket? Was it an accident or MURDER? With her tomcat sidekick Sunny is going to find out.  “Following the trail of the purrloined ticket” Sunny and her feline friend better be careful or the made find their very own tickets punched.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sunny made some interesting decisions which made this a very interesting mystery. I may not have agreed with her actions but they set in action quite a chain of events. Shadow’s inquisitive nature also drove this story. They are purr-fect partners.

It had several humorous moments, but the ladies of the neighborhood, especially one special lady, sneaking rich, sweet and “unhealthy” food to Sunny’s dad really made me giggle.

This is a light hearted romp with plenty of suspects in a quirky little town. It is a great start to a series that shows much promise.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2012 What An Animal Reading Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Victoria Hamilton (Giveaway too!)


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!


Today my very special guest is the author of a brand new cozy mystery series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries. But Victoria is not a brand new author, this may be her first venture into the cozy genre but she has written several bestselling romance novels. I am thrilled to welcome her today to tell us about her crossover to the genre that I absolutely love! Help yourself to a cup of tea and join me in welcoming Victoria.

Hi  Victoria!!

Hi Everyone!

The Ultimate Game of Pretend
By: Victoria Hamilton

A couple of years ago I approached a wonderful agent, one I was hoping to interest enough that she would represent me as an author. I had a mystery series idea, and had already written one book, and was a good way though a second in that series. I was devastated – crushed! – when she read my proposal, but just didn’t find it compelling enough to offer me representation. And then she went on hiatus, and was not accepting proposals for about five months. Ack!!

I was sending around to other agents, but not a one of them was my ‘dream’ agent like Jessica was (and still is). So I did something rare for an author. I asked for – and took! – her advice. Read some of the ‘first in a cozy series’ books by authors she represented, she told me. And I did. I read Hannah Reed, Sarah Atwell, Betty Hechtman, Joyce and Jim Lavene, Sheila Connolly and many others.

And I got it!! I finally got it.

To create a cozy mystery series that people would love, I had to take something I was passionate about and find a way to incorporate it into a set of characters and a town that was both fun and entertaining. I created a concept, wrote a proposal, presented it to my dream agent, and voila! She loved it as much as I did. Within weeks I had a three book contract with Berkley Prime Crime, my dream publisher.

That was how my Vintage Kitchen Mystery series was born. I’ve been collecting vintage kitchen stuff since… well, since the stuff wasn’t even vintage. I have some of my mom’s Pyrex refrigerator dishes, old tablecloths, and even her handwritten recipe book from way back when. Since then I’ve added to my collection with a set of Primary Colors Pyrex bowls, bought one piece at a time so it cost me less than a whole set. I have vintage cutlery, Depression glass bowls, old cookbooks… more than I really should have.

Then I imagined a town I’d like to live in, one where Americans and Canadians could mingle. And so Queensville, Michigan popped onto the map along the St. Clair River, which is the border between Michigan and Ontario. I invented an island – Heartbreak Island – with an interesting history, and a neighboring Canadian town, Johnsonville. I built an old yellow brick house in Queensville, and peopled it with a youngish vintage collector – Jaymie Leighton – and her two fur friends, Hoppy, a three-legged Yorkie-Poo of indomitable character, and Denver, the crabby tabby.

And then I let Jaymie loose, looking for that big, elusive prized piece on which to display some of her collection, a Hoosier kitchen cabinet. Jaymie went to an auction, and guess what she found… a Hoosier cabinet! Being a writer is wonderful, like an extended version of that favorite childhood game of ‘Pretend’. Do you remember that? It was my favorite. While other little girls may have treated their dolls like their babies, I treated them all like characters in a story, and made up lives for them.

And I guess I’m still doing that today. Being a writer is the ultimate game of pretend!

Book 1 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, A Deadly Grind, is now out, and I am thrilled with the reception… readers seem to love it! Book Two, Bowled Over, will be published in February of next year.

When I thought of writing another series, guess what? I realized another collecting passion of mine would come in handy!! I love and adore and collect teapots and teacups. So next year will also see the introduction of Book 1 of my Merry’s Muffins series, A Bran New Death.

This really is too much fun!
~::~Victoria

A Deadly Grind is the first book in Victoria Hamilton’s ‘Vintage Kitchen Mysteries’ cozy series. To learn more about the series, check out Victoria’s website: http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com

Read an excerpt from A Deadly Grind, and check out the site for online availability of this and other Victoria Hamilton Mysteries.

Victoria, I am so happy you have been bitten by the cozy bug. You play the game of “pretend” very well :).

Now let me me tell you why I loved this story!
A Deadly Grind
(A Vintage Kitchen Mystery)

Brand New Series!
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group

Cover Illustration by Tim O’Brien
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell

Jaymie Leighton lives in her parents nineteenth century yellow brick home. They have retired to a warmer climate and just visit during the summer. Her sister Rebecca visits on the weekends from London, Ontario, and together they hit the auctions and estate sales. They are both collectors. Jaymie collects vintage cookware and cookbooks. Rebecca china, tea cups and saucers. Rebecca is fifteen years older than Jaymie and sometimes seems like a second mother. She still thinks she knows what is best for Jaymie, but at 32 years of age Jaymie can make her own decisions.

Jayme decides to bid on Hoosier cabinet that made be a little worse for wear but she knows with a little elbow grease she will have a treasure. She outbids the other buyers and is thrilled to get her purchase home. Her sister, not so much. She thinks the house is full enough of Jaymie’s clutter. They get it home and leave it on the summer porch. They are exhausted from the day and enjoying their purchases can wait until morning.

But someone else had other ideas. Becca and Jaymie are woken up in the middle of night by noise downstairs. They are beside themselves when the find a dead body on the summer porch. They don’t recognize the man and even the police have a hard time identifying him. Why their house? Who is this guy? Jaymie needs to know. She starts to do just a little investigating. She had better be careful or she may be the one “who ends up going, going,…gone”.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I can identify this sibling relationship clearly. My sister is 12 years older than me and she too was like a second mom. We are close today but there have been times when she has made me so mad, thinking she knows best.

Before my accident I loved to attend auctions and estate sales. I was just like Jaymie. I would have killed, not literally, for a Hoosier like the one in this story. Our home has been cluttered over the years with my “finds”. This story hit home for me, really struck my heart.

Jaymie and I could be friends, we would be hitting the sales. Becca would probably be friends with my sister 🙂

The setting of these mysteries is really brilliant. Fictional Heartbreak Island between Michigan and Ontario where both American and Canadian tourists arrive for a variety of celebrations is the perfect backdrop. In this installment, a “Tea With The Queen” fundraiser gives the tourists, residents, and suspects a place to gather.

The author has laid the great foundation for more books in this series, setting us up for many return visits to Heartbreak Island. I hope not too many hearts are broken but with cozy mysteries you never know who the next victim or suspect may be. I just know this author is going to give us a wonderful who-dun-it that will find us Bowled Over!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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

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

Leave a comment for Victoria for 5 Bonus Entries !

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

Contest Will End May 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

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

Posted in Cruisin Thru Cozies Reviews 2012

Review: Final Sail by Elaine Viets

Final Sail: A Dead-End Job Mystery
11th in Series
Obsidian
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group

Coronado Investigations is in demand. Helen and Phil are married and working together just not necessarily on the same case at the same time. Phil is trying to catch a young gold digger who may have killed her elderly spouse for his money. He will be using a variety of disguises to reel her in.

Helen starts out helping Phil but now she has her own case. She is hitting the high seas as a stewardess on an luxury yacht to try to catch a jewel smuggler. Sounds like a dream job right, but she has to be extra careful or she may end up swimming with the fishes.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I absolutely love this series. Cruising on a luxury yacht with Helen may just be the perfect escape if it wasn’t for all the washing and ironing and cleaning toilets. What started out sounding fun was real work and then to track down a smuggler in her spare time made for a wild boat ride.

Phil with his hats and wigs posing as everything from Rastafarian to an air conditioning repairman to follow around the new Mrs. Zerling was a hoot and Helen got back from her voyage just in time to put herself back in the middle of the fun.

Elaine Viets never disappoints, she delivers mysteries that are fast paced and always entertaining! Helen and Phil make a heck of a team. Each edition tops the last and there is always that little trickle keeping us tied to Helen’s past which always leaves the reader wanting more. I can’t wait for my next adventure with the gang from The Coronado Tropics Apartments!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
A woman I can identify with! Elaine writes her novels with the help of Harry, a striped cat who sleeps by her computer and lashes the keyboard with his tail. He whips her into a writing frenzy. Harry collaborates on two series, the Dead-end Job mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. For more about Elaine check out her web site http://elaineviets.com

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.”