Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2012 What's In A Name Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Author Hannah Reed (Giveaway too!)

One of the first things I learned when I started blogging was that Hannah Reed and her alter ego Deb Baker are from Wisconsin. I quickly reached out to her and she was the very first author to guest post on Dollycas’s Thoughts. Since then I have become huge fan. I am so happy she is here today to tell us about the next Queen Bee Mystery.

Welcome Hannah!

Hi Everyone!

“Write What You Know,” the writing coaches tell us.

But I wanted to write mysteries, and I didn’t know a single thing about killing – I’m not a murderess, or in law enforcement, or a medical examiner. I don’t have a degree in criminal law, and I certainly am not acquainted with any serial killers, so interviewing bad guys was out. The victims weren’t talking, either (obviously).

After a lot of internal debate over my lack of qualifications, I decided to really write what I knew. And what I had experience with was small town Wisconsin. Plus, I’d married into a family business, and let me tell you, that turned out to be quite an awakening.

I also realized early on that I love sassy, unusual characters and fun romps and delving into family dynamics, all mixed with a twinkle of the outrageous and a bit of humor.

Enter Story Fischer, living in her hometown of Moraine, Wisconsin, a novice beekeeper, owner of The Wild Clover, the only local grocery store. Add an overbearing mother, a sister and cousin who work at the store, and a snoopy neighbor. Whip in a hot cop with a K-9 partner, plenty of gossip going around, and the dark side of human nature. Ta da. A winning recipe for murder and mayhem.

Book 3 in the series, Plan Bee, came out early this month. Appropriately titled, since when was the last time Plan A really worked? Never, that’s when.

Hope you enjoy it.


Thanks Hannah for stopping by.

About This Author
Hannah Reed is the pen name of author Deb Baker.

As Deb (her real name) she has authored The Gertie Johnson Backwoods Adventures and The Dolls To Die For Series.

In her youth, Deb dreamed of working as a private investigator or as an undercover cop. So when Deb began writing a new series, the Queen Bee mysteries, she did something she always wanted to do — she went undercover with an alias!

Hannah was one of her all-time favorite names. Reed was her great-grandmother’s maiden name. So she put the two together.

As it turns out, the author Hannah Reed is much younger than Deb Baker. She’s also more daring, more willing to step right into the midst of any sticky situation, and she’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

As Deb says, “Look out! When Hannah’s around, big trouble is sure to follow.”

To find out more check out her web page.


If you love the Queen Bee Mysteries, you will love Yooper Mysteries too. Stop by tomorrow when I tell you all about Murder Grins and Bears It. The second book in the Yooper series.


Plan Bee (A Queen Bee Mystery)
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

A Queen Bee Mystery
3rd in the Series
Cover Illustration by Trish Cramblet
Cover Design by Judith Langerman

It’s time for the Harmony Festival in Moraine, Wisconsin. All the shopkeepers are setting up outdoor displays, there will be a parade and even a Honey Queen. Story is none to happy with this year’s queen but there are other things for her to worry about, like a 12 year old whose is experimenting creating explosives, her mother’s new boyfriend and an out-of-towner trying to reap the benefits of the home town festival.

Then there’s that darn disappearing body, she tripped over it in the cemetery, but by the time help arrives the body is gone. It then turns up in a most unusual spot and when his identity is revealed Story realizes there are even more things she needs to worry about. The search for the truth “bee-comes” very interesting and danger could “bee” lurking around every corner.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I love this series.

Hannah Reed definitely writes what she knows. She crafts an wonderful intelligent cozy mystery without a flaw. The characters are all unique and absolutely extraordinary. Each and every one will make a beeline right into your heart, even the characters we love to hate. I grow to love each one a little more with every page in this wonderful series. They never fail to put a smile on my face.

Mystery and mayhem are blended together to give us a honey of a story for our minds to enjoy. Reed is definitely the Queen Bee when it comes to cozy mystery.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin I have
2 copies of this awesome book to giveaway
so be sure to fill out the form below to enter!!

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

***Remember GFC is going away March 1, 2012
so be sure you are following in a different way if you want to
continue to follow Escape With Dollycas.

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 February 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By
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 Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2011 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Cozy Wednesday Special Addition with Author Kathleen Ernst (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to the special edition of Cozy Wednesday on Thursday. This is an extra special day for me. Kathleen Ernst is a Wisconsin Author and her Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series is set at the historic site of Old World Wisconsin and the surrounding area. All four of our kids had school field trips to Old World Wisconsin and my husband and I took turns being chaperones. We love that place and can’t wait until our grandson is just a little older so we can take him there too.

Please help me Welcome Kathleen Ernst to Escape With Dollycas!!!

Hi Kathleen!!

Hi Everyone! I am happy to be here! I am glad Dollycas and I connected so I could take a moment to tell you about…

Murder, Past and Present
by Kathleen Ernst

Novelist William Faulkner once said, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” If Faulkner hadn’t said that, Chloe Ellefson—the protagonist of my Historic Sites mysteries—might have.

Chloe is a curator at large historic site called Old World Wisconsin. She is not an amateur sleuth in the traditional sense. She isn’t nosey or particularly observant. She takes no pleasure in being involved with crimes. If it were up to her, all detection would be left to local cop Roelke McKenna.

Alas, events conspire against her. In Old World Murder, Chloe’s first day on the job comes to a troubling end when an elderly donor comes looking for a family antique that she’d donated to Old World Wisconsin years earlier. Moments later, the woman dies in a car crash. When Chloe realizes that the antique in question is missing, she tries to find it. As curator, it’s her job; she also wants to honor the donor’s memory. Chloe begins to suspect that someone else is after the artifact, but authorities initially take no interest. What’s a curator to do?

In my new release, The Heirloom Murders, Chloe is dragged into the middle of a complicated set of crimes. Roelke McKenna takes the investigative lead, and tries hard to keep Chloe uninvolved in police matters. Just one problem with that plan—the motivation for murder is rooted in historical events. In the end, Chloe’s knowledge helps Roelke understand the situation he’s confronting.

Readers often ask writers where they get their ideas. For me, it’s pretty simple: I used to work as a curator at Old World Wisconsin, and I’ve always been fascinated by the past. While traveling or doing research I look for a spark—some compelling bit of information or lore that makes me want to plunge into a new novel. I like to find stories that haven’t been widely told. I love shining my tiny bit of lantern light on those events in fictional form.

And I love devising ways to illustrate how history can tangle lives in the here-and-now. After all, aren’t all communities and families the sum of everything that has gone on before? We’re all shaped by past events.

I think William Faulkner had it right. How about you? Have you considered how long-gone events affect your life today?

I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to celebrate publication of The Heirloom Murders (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by guest-posting here. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page and your name will go into a drawing for a free book. The winner can choose any of my seventeen titles. The Heirloom Murders, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours! To learn more, please visit my website,


**Book blurb, The Heirloom Murders:
Working for Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson delights in losing herself in antiques and folk traditions–and forgetting her messy love life. Then the outdoor ethnic museum becomes a murder scene. Does the missing Eagle diamond, a legendary gemstone unearthed in 1876, have anything to do with it? Could Simon Sabatola, a rich AgriFutures executive who possibly drove his wife to suicide, be responsible? Chloe learns that some things never change in this compelling mystery of old-fashioned greed, Swiss green cheese, and a nearly-extinct heirloom flower.

The books are both published my Midnight Ink and are available now anywhere books are sold.
Dollycas’s Thoughts
I loved both of these books. First because they were a mini trip down memory lane, but Kathleen describes the settings so well you won’t have had to visit the historic site to feel like you are right there in the farmhouses, the barns, or even Chloe’s trailer office. Chloe also travels around the area and the author’s words take us right along with her.

I also enjoyed that Chloe really doesn’t want to being the middle of any of the investigations, she would rather be doing her job as Curator of Collections, keep her boss off her back and spending time with her new friends.

The best part though are the mysteries. They are so well plotted and intelligently written, with plenty of spins and spills, twists and turns. The characters take some turns and spills themselves.

These stories also educate us about the cultures of old Wisconsin in a subtle way. I especially liked the peek we had when a older couple told the story of coming to Wisconsin and making a special type of cheese. The back stories are as rich as the mysteries that unfold in each book. The way historical and modern times mesh together in these stories is truly delightful. You can feel Kathleen’s passion for Old World Wisconsin in her words. She understands the history and the extra research she does for ideas is going to give her a wide range of things to shine a light on in future stories.

This isn’t your ordinary cozy, it is so much more!!! It earns the rating of

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

Now for the giveaway!!!
Kathleen is giving away your choice of one of her books. The winner can choose any of her seventeen titles. The Heirloom Murders, one of her American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours! To learn more, please visit her website,

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

Contest Will End November 3 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Guest Posts Reviews 2011

Cozy Wednesday With Jennie Bentley (Great Giveaway Too!)

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

Please help me give a warm welcome to Jennie Bentley!

Hi Jennie!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “Cozy Wednesday With Jennie Bentley (Great Giveaway Too!)”