Aug 072019
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am so excited to welcome Julia Buckley today!

My Hungarian Grandma

By Julia Buckley

(Guest Post Provided by Publicist)

The author with her Grandma in the 1980s

One character in my new mystery, DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY, has garnered some attention because she is interesting and possibly psychic. She is a Hungarian immigrant who raised her family in America and adapted to a new way of life despite spending all of her formative years in her home country.

Parts of this character, Juliana Horvath, were based on memories I have of my own grandmother, Julia Vig, who came to this country right around 1920 to keep house for her father, who had traveled to America before her. She traveled by ship, alone, to a country she knew nothing of, and a father she had not seen in years. She was seventeen years old.

I only knew my grandmother in her later life, and my fictional Juliana, too, is an old woman.

My grandmother was full of personality. She was loving, sometimes strict, religious but also superstitious, and extremely talented in the areas of needlework and cooking.

I have not tasted my grandmother’s food in close to forty years, but I have FOOD MEMORY—that thing which allows you to recall the best foods of your childhood as though the flavor is still on your tongue. I remember the smell of her kitchen, the taste of her cooking, the wonderful blend of onions and paprika and chicken stock and pastry.

My grandma did not use recipes, at least not ones that she would write down for us. She had a magical sense of what was needed, and she threw it all into a pot and created delicious things. One of my favorite memories of her involves the sleep-overs my sister and I would have at her house (we were the two youngest and probably the only ones not in school at this point). We would sleep in her “hotel” and we got a room to ourselves, known as the “purple room” because of its purple bedspread. We got to unpack our things in the big old dresser, and it felt quite cosmopolitan to us little girls who pretended we were in some Ginger Rogers movie.

In the morning we would go down the solid wood staircase and travel to my grandmother’s kitchen on a wave of some heavenly aroma. She would have cereal for us, but she would be at work, even in the early hours, making noodles. All of her noodles were homemade, rolled out from dough and cut into tiny pieces, then dried so that they could be used in various recipes. She would have a huge pot of chicken soup going; this became our lunch. It was filled with vegetables from her garden, healthy doses of chicken, and her little noodles. (In her early Chicago days, she even killed and plucked the chicken herself).

The book details all of my favorite foods (they become the favorites of Hana, my narrator) and they will make you hungry.

It’s hard to find a good Hungarian restaurant these days, but even if I could locate one near me, the chef would have a very tough act to follow. The reality is that no one cooks like Grandma did, and the best way I can pay homage to her food is to write about it.

~Julia

Thank you so much, Julia, for visiting today!

Keep reading for my thoughts on Death in a Budapest Butterfly.


Death in a Budapest Butterfly (A Hungarian Tea House Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Setting – Illinois
Berkley (July 30, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1984804820
ISBN-13: 978-1984804822
Kindle ASIN: B07K5ZJ2QL

Hana Keller serves up European-style cakes and teas in her family-owned tea house, but when a customer keels over from a poisoned cuppa, Hana and her tea-leaf reading grandmother will have to help catch a killer in the first Hungarian Tea House Mystery from Julia Buckley.

Hana Keller and her family run Maggie’s Tea House, an establishment heavily influenced by the family’s Hungarian heritage and specializing in a European-style traditional tea service. But one of the shop’s largest draws is Hana’s eccentric grandmother, Juliana, renowned for her ability to read the future in the leaves at the bottom of customers’ cups. Lately, however, her readings have become alarmingly ominous and seemingly related to old Hungarian legends…

When a guest is poisoned at a tea event, Juliana’s dire predictions appear to have come true. Things are brought to a boil when Hana’s beloved Anna Weatherley butterfly teacup becomes the center of the murder investigation as it carried the poisoned tea. The cup is claimed as evidence by a handsome police detective, and the pretty Tea House is suddenly endangered. Hana and her family must catch the killer to save their business and bring the beautiful Budapest Butterfly back home where it belongs.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Welcome to Maggie’s Tea House where Hana, her mother Maggie, and grandmother Juliana, serve cakes and tea focused on the family’s Hungarian heritage. A real treat is that Juliana can read tea leaves and predict the future. The ladies have a vast tea service collection for their customers and Hana has a private collection too. She just added a beautiful butterfly cup, one that she has put on display at their latest event.

With the event well underway Maggie notices her cup is not where she left, but on a table being used by a woman, she doesn’t recognize. Her grandmother is busy reading leaves and Hana overhears some ominous predictions. She looks back to see the woman who was using her cup hurrying off to the bathroom. After a few minutes, Hana heads that way to find the woman dead.

Detective Erik Wolf arrives on the scene, the butterfly cup is bagged as evidence and he and his partner start getting everyone’s information. When he does start questioning witnesses he asks for Hana, Maggie, and Juliana’s help because they are familiar with the woman and the Hungarian language. With their business labeled as a crime scene, they agree but that doesn’t stop them from doing some snooping on their own.

This series is off to a fine start!

Hana Keller is 26 years old and still single much to her mother and grandmother’s dismay. She lives with her cats Anthony & Cleopatra and she has a passion for promoting her family’s Hungarian culture. Her mother Maggie is the force behind the tea house, but her grandmother is also very involved. I really enjoyed getting to know them, but feel we have just scratched the surface of who they are. There is a thread that purposed that Hana may have a gift similar to her grandmother that seems to have skipped her mother’s generation. I am interested to see how this is featured in future stories.

We are also meet several women/suspects from the neighborhood, the hunky Detective Wolf and his partner. Detective Benton. We are also introduced to pastry chef Francois, Hana’s brother Domo, and her dad too. It is a large cast but the author takes time to make each unique and has left plenty of room for growth. There are some sparks between Hana and Detective Wolf but it is very early in the series and hard to classify as a relationship YET, but we know where they are headed. 🙂

The mystery was filled with intrigue. I did like that Hana and Detective Wolf stayed in constant communication and she passed on everything she uncovered. I was also pleased that the family was not automatically pegged as suspects and were treated with respect whenever they needed to answer questions. There were twists and turns too and clues were released in unique ways. The author’s detailed writing style played well for this type of plot.

The Hungarian theme and language continued throughout the story. I had known a little about the culture and was happy to learn more. When Detective Wolf was around it was necessary for words to be translated and as a reader, not familiar with the language that was appreciated. I love that recipes are included in the back of the book. To learn that Grandma Juliana is partly based on the author’s grandmother brought me even more joy about this book. What a wonderful to pay tribute to someone important in her life.

I found Death in a Budapest Butterfly to be delightfully entertaining. I want to get to know these characters better and visit the tea room again soon.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Julia Buckley is the author of the Undercover Dish mysteries and the Writer’s Apprentice mysteries. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Chicago Writer’s Association. She has taught high school English for twenty-nine years.

Also By Julia Buckley


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.

Sign up for Julia Buckley’s Newsletter for 5 Bonus Entries!

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End August 21, 2019, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

 

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Jul 122019
 


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.

This book takes care of the “X” on my Alphabet Soup – Author Edition Challenge!


On Her Own Two Wheels
Contemporary Literature & Fiction
Setting – Illinois
Independently Published (November 5, 2012)
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN-10: 1478339780
ISBN-13: 978-1478339786
Kindle ASIN: B00AAQL97C

Just three years out of college and Cassie Wright has hit a dead end. Still living at home with her mom and dad and dating the same writer masked as a waiter, Devon, for just as long, she knows she wants more out of life. Motorcycle lessons seem like a fun idea and the perfect escape. Cassie soon finds herself breaking away from her dull life and starts on a journey to self-confidence as she learns how to make each day extraordinary.

While driving home from visiting her grandmother in Wisconsin, she drags a reluctant Devon to a local biker event at a motorcycle dealership. From there, she becomes inspired to take riding lessons for some much-needed fun and adventure. In time, she meets Marcus, the part-time riding instructor, and full-time college administrator. He is drawn to Cassie’s ambition and adventurous spirit, and a romance quickly blossoms, forcing Cassie to realize she deserves better than what Devon chooses to give.

Becoming more confident in her everyday life through her riding, Cassie quits the electronics shop to become the motorcycle dealership’s new marketing director, opening herself up to an entirely new set of professional and personal obstacles. Cassie must learn to approach her issues in a whole new way while striving to be the type of woman she herself would want to emulate.

An inspirational coming-of-age novel for any woman who has ever settled for less, romantically or professionally, On Her Own Two Wheels tells the moving tale of a young woman finding the courage to challenge herself, break the mold, seek adventure, and make the ordinary in her life extraordinary as she truly comes into her own.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Cassie Wright is trying to find her way in life and makes a spur of the moment decision to take a motorcycle riding lessons. Her parents are very supportive, her boyfriend not so much. Three years out of college she is realizing her relationship with Devon is going nowhere and her life is not heading where she wants.  She decides to have a fun escape that helps her grow more in one week than she has in years. There were bumps along the way and I know this is just a short snippet in her life. Who knows what happened after the last page.

This was a fun quick read! Part self-awareness and part romance this book is a feel-good novel for women young like Cassie and old like me. I enjoyed following Cassie on her short journey. I liked the way her confidence bloomed. The ending was as expected, but it as a nice little distraction from real life.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Stacy Xavier

I am an attorney living and working in Illinois. My great loves include God, books, my friends, my family, animals, good food, good drink, and motorcycles. I also love learning about how people achieve success, collecting inspirational quotes, and pretending I’ve won the lottery. I enjoy going to the gym; I enjoy not going to the gym even more. I believe in Ben Franklin’s words: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Facebook  – Blog – Twitter:

Available for Kindle for $0.99


Since I know this book isn’t a cozy I am giving away
1 Kindle Copy of a Cozy of your choice
priced at $2.99 or lower.
You can choose this book if you would like or need a “x” author too 😛 

It will be sent directly from Amazon.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Contest Will End July 26, 2019, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Mar 262019
 

This book was released today!! 


Leave No Scone Unturned (Chef-to-Go Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Illinois
Sourcebooks Landmark (March 26, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1492648418
ISBN-13: 978-1492648413
Kindle ASIN: B07JN63J8X

Another deadly fun Chef-to-Go mystery from New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson!

The back-to-school season can be murder

It’s the beginning of the university’s fall semester and Dani can’t wait for the college students to return to Normalton, Illinois—after all, without them, there is no one to support her Lunch-to-Go service, which is a vital part of her Chef-to-Go business. But Normalton University’s orientation week is marred by a mysterious murder, along with a series of car-jackings and sightings of a mysterious creature in a pond on campus. And with the whole town feeling unsettled, Dani finds herself dealing once again with the infuriatingly handsome Spencer Drake, the head of security at the university.

Although Dani vowed that her life would never again be boring and routine after she quit her stifling corporate job, she had no idea that she’d end up dealing with such strange happenings—not to mention murder. But as the trouble in Normalton draw worryingly close to home, Dani realizes that if the killer isn’t caught soon, she may be the next one who is found scone cold dead.

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

It’s Orientation Week at the university and freshman are flocking to take part. Dani Sloan is hoping to draw new students to her Lunch-To-Go business in addition to getting the word out about her catering and personal chef services to keep Chef-To-Go going strong. Unfortunately, the area is also dealing with several car-jackings, of which one of Dani’s tenants is a victim, and an eerie creature appearing at twilight in the pond on campus. Ivy’s uncle Spencer is the head of security and he has his hands full.

Dani also finds out the Ivy has been giving food left over from their catering events to the homeless who are camped out near the university. At first, Dani thinks this is a wonderful idea, but then they find Ivy’s contact person dead in his tent. Dani wants to do anything she can to help find the killer so she teams up with Spencer AND the new hunky detective, Gray Christensen. Spencer is not pleased with her new alliance at all.

Dani, Ivy, Tippi, and Starr are still figuring out their living/working situation but Chef-To-Go is off to a great start. While Dani is like a big sister and friend to the girls she is learning that sometimes she must put the boss hat on as well. Dani’s relationship with Spencer is moving very slowly because they are both so busy and are getting over past relationships, but a new man entering Dani’s life has Spencer rethinking things. Some people don’t but I enjoy the beginning of a romantic triangle. Gray can really shake things up and shake things out for Dani. I am excited to see how the author continues the romantic side of Dani’s life.

Ms. Swanson has entangled these wonderful characters in complicated mystery too. With each turn of the page, I became deeper ensconced into this mystery. Twist after twist truly kept me guessing. The ending was super exciting.

I was really drawn in by the homeless plight that was featured. Homeless veterans, families, teens. It has become so prevalent in this nation and two sides were clearly portrayed with this story.

Again, the college setting opens up so many possibilities. All the core characters are involved in college life in different ways giving the story different views of all the happenings. The author has described the layout so well that I could easily picture the events happening all over and around the campus.

There is also plenty of food being made, sold, and passed around throughout the whole story. Enticingly described, I could easily whip up some of the tasty treats from those descriptions, but I was surprised there were no recipes at the end of the book.

A complex mystery featuring likable and interesting characters set at a fine school of knowledge featuring delectable food.  This book checks all my boxes for a fabulous cozy mystery. I highly recommend Leave No Scone Unturned to all foodie cozy lovers!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review for Tart of Darkness, the 1st book in this series here.

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River Mysteries, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries, the Change of Heart romances, and the Delicious romances She worked as a school psychologist for twenty-two years before quitting to write full-time. She lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr.

 





I want to share my advance review copy with you!

The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Sign Up For Denise Swanson’s Newsletter for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End April 9, 2019, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Sep 152018
 


Die Me a River (Welcome Back to Scumble River)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Illinois
Sourcebooks Landmark (September 4, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1492648353
ISBN-13: 978-1492648352
Kindle ASIN: B07CP798ZG

The chips are down in Scumble River

School psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd had hoped that her maternity leave would be at least a little relaxing, but when she and her husband, Wally, meet with the priest to discuss their newborn twins’ christening, an explosion at the nearby bowling alley rocks the rectory. And although the business was closed at the time of the blast, there’s a body inside.

As police chief, Wally is inevitably drawn into the investigation, which seems to indicate that foul play is afoot again in Scumble River, and Skye can’t help but do a bit of her own sleuthing. But the clues come fast and furious, ranging from an odd new stranger in town to animosity toward the gambling machines that had recently been installed at the bowling alley, and Skye finds herself wondering if this could be the puzzle that stumps her for good.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Their twins have been born and their house is being rebuilt after the tornado, Skye, Wally, and the babies are leaving in a fabulous RV. Life is good. Then the new parents are meeting with the priest to go over details for the babies’ christening when a loud explosion rocks them and the building. They run outside to see that the explosion occurred at the bowling alley. The bowling alley where Skye’s former boyfriend’s mother lives. Police chief Wally and Skye take in the scene and after the firemen rescue those that were trapped in the building they are both rocked again by one of the people coming out of the building. But there was someone that didn’t make it out. A body is found in the debris.

Was the bowling alley targeted because of the flak about the gambling machines? Or is there some other reason a bomb was placed in the building? Wally is right in the thick of the investigation but Skye is doing some investigating of her own. She is also handling some things at school for the intern filling in for her while she is on maternity leave. And then there are the twins, the christening, the baby shower where her mother has invited over 150 people, and decisions that need to be made regarding their new home. To say Skye and Wally have a lot on their plate in an understatement of epic proportions.

Whether this is your first book in this series you have picked up or if you are a long time fan you are in for a wonderful treat!

Ms. Swanson has taken Syke through thick and thin over the now 23 Scumble River and Welcome Back to Scumble River series’. I was a little nervous about how these babies may slow her down, but we saw in this story that that is not the case. Skye has really matured over the course of the series. She and Wally make a great team both as parents and investigators. With all their friends and extended family, there is never a dull moment in Scumble River.

This story was incredibly easy to escape into. The characters are likable, believable, and engaging. The dialogue is spot on too. I was surprised that the new babies remain unnamed until the christening when the names are revealed.  There is no way my family or my husband’s family would have let us get away with that. But it did make the moment very special.

Now the mystery starts out with several potential suspects, the victim was not an easy person to like and they were doing anything to advance their career on the backs of others. With a little digging, the list of suspects was pared down quickly. The author throws several red herrings along the path to distract us too. Everything comes to a surprising end in totally the wrong place. Yes, I was on edge until it all played out.

Caution – there are a few curse words in the story, but the new parents are working on that 🙂

Superb characters in some crazy situations come together in the well-written mystery.  I would have finished the whole thing all in one evening if only my eyeballs would have cooperated.

This was a fun read!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of
Dead in the Water here.

About the Author

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River Mysteries, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries, the Change of Heart romances, and the Delicious romances She worked as a school psychologist for twenty-two years before quitting to write full-time. She lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr.

Check out the publisher book page with a list of characters and a Scumble River map here.

 





I am giving away my review copy!

The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted.
Void where prohibited.
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End September 29, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Jan 192018
 

Changing things up a little bit today.
I received this book for an early review and couldn’t wait to read it,
so I stuck in a Flashback Friday spot.
That means we are having a FlashForward Friday

so I could tell you about it right away.


Tart of Darkness (Chef-to-Go Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Illinois
Sourcebooks Landmark (April 3, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1492648383
Kindle ASIN: B0748MXMSZ

 

 

Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion―cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears―perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to an amazing start!

Danielle (Dani) Sloan quit her job, dropped her “Dr. McCreepy” and is cooking up a storm, watching Hell’s Kitchen and Cupcake Wars, as she sends out her resumé. She is usually joined by Ivy Drake, an 18-year old college junior that lives across the hall. Not a typical friendship, more of a big sister/little sister thing, but it works for them. One day she receives a letter telling her she has inherited a mansion, an old Victorian that was being remodeled into a B&B. After the shock wears off she realizes this inheritance could make her dreams come true. So while the lawyer gets the paperwork done she makes plans for her new business, Chef-to-Go. She will be doing catering, providing meals on the go for the college students and hiring herself out as a personal chef. She gets help with the business from her new tenants, Ivy and her friends that used to live across the hall. They were evicted for some major infractions of the landlord’s rules. Their parents have agreed to pay for them to live with Dani as long as Dani watches over them and Ivy’s Uncle Spencer checks on them weekly. Spencer, the head of college security is glad to help the girls any way he can, especially after he meets Dani.

Things are going great until one of Ivy’s college friends is murdered, shortly after Dani caters a party for her. The investigating detective decides quickly that Dani is the killer. She could lose everything. She needs to clear her name and fast or the only place she will cooking will be the state penitentiary.

The first book in a series is a huge undertaking because you have to introduce the characters, give them each a back story, connect them together and then wrap them in a mystery that keeps readers flipping those pages while leaving them wanting for more. Ms. Swanson more than met this challenge.

I liked Dani immediately. She left her job for a very good reason and I was excited that she could follow her passion. Her business plan makes sense and her new living arrangement is unique and fun. Ivy being so young is a bit naive and needs to have someone looking out for her. Her friends Tippi and Starr do what they can, but she needs Dani and Spencer in her life too. Tippi and Starr are typical college students and Dani likes having them live with her, but one tends to shirk her responsibilities to Danni quite a bit. Spencer is a former FBI agent who spent most of his career undercover. Now retired he enjoys the slower pace of running the security division for the college. These core characters are engaging and interesting. The author has left plenty of room to grow as the series continues.

There are some crazy characters too. Detective Mikeloff is off the rails and the victim and her family have their issues too.

The plot and subplots of this story are very well developed. The mystery itself had plenty of suspects with motive. The victim had done some really terrible things. Dani is a great investigator, people opened up to her so easily. She tries to help everyone she talks to, even when she was facing the murderer. This blends in with the romantic tension Dani and Spencer have every time they are in the vicinity with each other and Dani having to deal with a request from her ex.

I do enjoy the college campus setting. There are tons of possibilities for future stories.

I did have a couple of minor concerns. The author mentions her Scumble River series and ties a couple of characters to characters in that series. This may be likable for fans of that series but may be off-putting to those who have not yet read that series. Also, while the Epilogue wraps up this story,  Dani comes off just a little bit preachy at the end.

I am excited to see where Ms. Swanson takes this series. I am invested in the characters and can’t wait for the next story.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River Mysteries, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries, the Change of Heart romances, and the Delicious romances She worked as a school psychologist for twenty-two years before quitting to write full-time. She lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr.

 




I want to share my advance review copy with you!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted.
Void where prohibited.
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End February 2, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Oct 122017
 


Yuletide Homicide (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (September 26, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496704962
Kindle ASIN: B01NAOYEG6

It’s Christmas in Edindale, Illinois, and family law attorney Keli Milanni is preparing to celebrate the Wiccan holiday Yuletide, a celebration of rebirth. But this Yuletide someone else is focused on dying . . .

After years of practicing in secret, Keli has come out as a Wiccan to her boyfriend, and she feels like this Yuletide she’s the one who’s being reborn. But the Solstice is the longest night of the year, and Keli is about to stumble on a mystery so dangerous, she’ll be lucky to make it to morning.

Paired with her unbearably stuffy colleague Crenshaw Davenport III, Keli goes undercover at a real estate company owned by mayoral candidate Edgar Harrison. An old friend of Keli’s boss, Harrison, is being blackmailed, and it’s up to her to find the culprit. But the morning after the company holiday party, Harrison is found dead underneath the hotel Christmas tree. The police rule the death an accident, but Keli knows better—and she’ll risk her own rebirth to nab a missing killer.


About the Author

Jennifer David Hesse is an environmental attorney by day and author by night. Midsummer Night’s Mischief is her debut book in the new Wiccan Wheel series. Born and raised in Central Illinois, Jennifer now makes her home in Chicago with her husband, guitarist Scott Hesse, and their daughter, Sage. When she’s not writing, Jennifer enjoys yoga, hiking, and movie night with her family. Please visit her at www.JenniferDavidHesse.com.

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
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with a US mailing address.
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Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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Sep 022017
 

I am beyond happy that this series has found a new home.
This book comes out on Tuesday!


Dead in the Water (Welcome Back to Scumble River)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Welcome Back to Scumble River Series
Setting – Illinois
Sourcebooks Landmark (September 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1492648321
Kindle ASIN: B06XRJQ5CV

 

 

 

A twister, a kidnapping, and a murder—oh my! Scumble River may never be the same.

For school psychologist Skye Denison, there’s certainly no place like home. When a violent tornado devastates her small hometown of Scumble River, she can’t see how the community will ever recover—especially since town councilman Zeke Lyons appears to have perished in the twister.

But things get even worse for Skye when her police chief husband, Wally, disappears in the midst of investigating Zeke’s death, and evidence arises pointing to foul play. Did Zeke really die in the storm, or was he murdered? And could Wally be next on the criminal’s hit list?

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We go back to Scumble River to find Skye Denison-Boyd almost near the end of her pregnancy and a mighty tornado bearing down on the community. As the debris is cleared the body of Zeke Lyons is found dead in his home. But he wasn’t killed by the twister, someone murdered the man using the storm as a cover. The investigation barely gets going when Skye’s police chief husband goes missing. Skye calls in some reinforcements to find her husband and she may just catch a killer too before she goes into labor.

Fans of the Scumble River series are rejoicing this book’s release, but I want to make something very clear, if you have never read any of the previous Scumble River mysteries or have only read a few you can jump into this book with ease. Denise Swanson is a pro, she has included everything you need to know to enjoy this book. She has rebooted the timeline so this and future stories take place in present day with the characters not aging a bit 🙂 and given us enough backstory to the town and its residents to not feel one bit lost.

These are dynamic characters that jump off the pages. Skye is a strong determined woman that doesn’t back down. As a school psychologist she knows how to deal with people and can get them to open up to her when they may not to others. Wally Boyd is the police chief and while also strong and determined he has a boss, the mayor, and this can get him into trouble. The love they have for each other is heartwarming and shines clearly throughout the story.  We meet several residents of Scumble River and some visitors, good and bad too. All introduced (or reintroduced) perfectly.

I read this story as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on Texas and Louisiana. Like there, the people of Scumble River band together to help. Shelters are opened for the displaced, police and fire work overtime to find everyone affected by the tornado, and donations are needed and come pouring in. So much of the town was damaged. It is going to be a long road of recovery. Disasters like these bring out the best in people. Well, most people because someone did kill Councilman Zeke Lyons.

This story was very fast paced with the tornado, a murder and a missing Wally. It had sort of a movie like quality about it. Ms. Swanson has a wonderful descriptive writing style that gives the reader an excellent understanding of time and place. From the Boyd’s basement, to the police station, to the devastation seen all over town, I saw everything as clear as crystal. I loved the references to the Wizard of Oz. Scumble River may not be in Kansas but a tornado can strike anywhere in the Midwest and leaves us all clicking the heels of our red shoes together to go “home”.  I read the entire book in one day. It was very hard to put down.

Ms. Swanson has penned an outstanding mystery. I am thrilled that she has been able to continue this series. I am so excited for the next installment, I want to read it right now.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River Mysteries, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries, the Change of Heart romances, and the Delicious romances She worked as a school psychologist for twenty-two years before quitting to write full-time. She lives in Illinois with her husband, classical music composer David Stybr.

Check out the publisher book page with a list of characters and a Scumble River map here.

 




Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted.
Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

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Click the Like Button at the top of this post for a Bonus Entry.

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Contest Will End September 16, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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May 212016
 
newlywed dead
Newlywed Dead
(Perfect Proposals Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Illinois
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Release Date – May 3, 2016
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270370
E-Book ASIN: B013Q70BMA
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In the new Perfect Proposals mystery from the author of Bodice of Evidence and Engaged in Murder, a country club wedding reception becomes the scene of a baffling crime.

The wedding for Pepper Pomeroy’s sister Felicity starts with dearly beloved but it ends with dearly departed when Ashley, the bartender Pepper befriended earlier in the evening, drops dead from a lethal nightcap. Authorities think it’s just a tragic accident. After all, who’d want to kill a virtual stranger at a country club wedding reception? That’s what Pepper wants to know.

A search into Ashley’s past reveals a twisty path of secret sororities, well-connected enemies, and an unsolved slaying still shadowing members of high society—including a filthy-rich battle-ax whose demands for the services of Pepper’s Perfect Proposals are starting to sound more like veiled threats. Pepper’s business may be booming but continued success means outsmarting a mysterious culprit who’s still wedded to the idea of murder.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Pepper Pomeroy’s sister Felicity says I do and left the reception before bartender, Ashley’s very public demise. Drug and alcohol can be a lethal combo but Pepper believes there is much more to the story. The police has categorized the death as accidental so Pepper will have to investigate on her own.  She follows clues that take her from the country club set to all the way back into Ashley’s past. Her business may be Perfect Proposals but she’s a  pretty perfect sleuth too.

The story starts with Felicity’s wedding and the murder but we also follow Pepper as she meets with clients and plans and executes some Perfect Proposals and engagement parties. I really enjoyed this, as one was pretty low key and another was off the charts elaborate. She deals with some truly lovely people and some that are pretty darn crazy. All these characters were written so cleverly, the really jumped off the pages.

This was a really fast paced story. I whipped right through it. Action, drama, mystery, mayhem with great characters. This Perfect Proposal Mystery was positively perfect. Engaging from start to finish.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can find out more about Nancy and her books on her webpage here.

Also by Nancy J. Parra

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

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Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End June 4, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Apr 222016
 

9WbGnJTR
On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I missed when they were first
released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

BODICE OF EVIDENCE
Bodice of Evidence
(Perfect Proposals Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Illinois
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (June 2, 2015)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by George Long
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270363
E-Book ASIN: B00OQS4E6I
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Pepper’s new wedding proposal planning business, Perfect Proposals, seems like a perfect fit. If only shopping for her sister Felicity’s bridal gown could be so simple.

After a long day of lace, tulle, and tears, Pepper, Felicity, and their mother pull it together to try one last bridal boutique. Maybe they’ll be surprised. And indeed they are—when they enter a deserted shop and soon discover the owner of the boutique slain in the alley out back.

Distressed by their proximity to the crime, Pepper vows to unveil the killer. As difficult as it is to draw a pattern from the clues, it’s still easier than finding Felicity’s perfect wedding gown. But as the killer begins to feel hemmed in, Pepper may be the one brought to her knees…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Shopping for a wedding dress is supposed to be fun but it can be quite stressful to find the “perfect” dress. Pepper knows shopping with her sister, Felicity, for her dress is going to interesting but she never expected that when they arrived for their last appointment the shop’s owner would be dead. Dead, as in murdered in the alley behind the boutique. They had arrived a little late and Pepper feels if they would have been on time they could have saved the woman. But they also could have become collateral damage. She just can’t help doing a little investigating on her own and that could end no where near perfect.

Pepper’s business sounds like a really great job. Her business, Perfect Proposals, sets up events for the perfect engagement proposals. It is always a surprise to the party being proposed to. It can be a proposal while skydiving, or at a movie theater, or anything the couple likes to do. Pepper wants the proposal to be special and she works hard to make that happen. Her business is taking off now that people have heard about her sister’s proposal. The whole family dynamic rings so true for me. I love her mom, very opinionated, and dad, knows when to back off, the sister, a little over the top.

I really enjoyed this story. A little twist has the detective in charge of the case actually happy with the information Pepper is providing. The suspects all seem to be family, an employee and her boyfriend, but Pepper just can’t figure out why they would want the woman dead. She is determined and goes back to the shop several times trying to get the answers she needs. I liked the way she handled it though, she always had a good reason to be there, dress fitting, payment on the dress, etc. And she purchased one pricey maid of honor dress! good thing they had a payment plan.

The mystery itself was well written and entertaining but I enjoyed the Perfect Proposal planning and events just as much. Together there was always action and drama making the pages absolutely fly.

It should be noted that while Nancy J. Parra is the name on the cover, Nancy, who also writes as Nancy Coco and Julie Hyzy, of the Manor House Mysteries, work in conjunction to write this series. I enjoy their other series’ so it is not a surprise to me that enjoy their writing together as well. The know how to set the scene, create realistic characters, and put them in drama filled situations. The also know how to add the perfect amount of humor to their stories.

This Perfect Proposals Mystery is a perfect escape!

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

You can find out more about Nancy and her books on her webpage here.

Also by Nancy J. Parra

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away my review copy!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.

Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End May 6, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

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Aug 022014
 

fast trackFast Track
Romantic Suspense
Dutton (July 29, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0525954453
E-Book File Size: 1180 KB
ASIN: B00G3L153Q
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Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy’s girl—her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just two years old. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Cordelia can’t suppress her curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her, and when she discovers the answers to her questions lie in Sydney, Australia, she travels there to get them.

Hotel magnate Aiden Madison is Cordelia’s best friend’s older brother. He’s oblivious to the fact that she’s had a crush on him for years. When he gets railroaded into taking her along to Sydney on his company jet, he’s unwittingly drawn into a volatile family drama.

Aiden wants to help Cordelia get answers about her mother, but threats from her wealthy, high-powered family are quickly becoming dangerous. Sparks are flying between Cordelia and Aiden, but after multiple attempts are made on Cordelia’s life, Aiden realizes he must put a stop to the madness before he loses the thing he values most.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am testing my memory on this story. I believe Aiden and Cordelia’s crush started way back in a previous book. I believe it was Murder List back in 2004 and now 10 years later they come together again.  Aiden was always more of a big brother figure because he was her best friend’s older brother, but she has a huge crush on the guy.  This time they are thrown together due to circumstances beyond their control and her crush is reciprocated in a big way. Now she just has to stay alive and they need to realize they belong together.

The plot of this one was very engaging. After all these years Cordie’s father reveals a secret on his deathbed about her mother.  My heart was breaking for her and she had the courage to uncover the truth even though it put her in mortal danger.

There is also a subplot involving the Madison brothers. Two are very active in the family hotel business and the third brother is more of a playboy who races cars and hooks up with a variety of ladies. An accident has sidelined him and he decides to get involved in a deal his brothers have written off. Spencer and Aiden are not happy about Walker taking on the deal and family drama ensues.  Add this to Cordie’s drama and it makes a helluva story!

Yes, this book is part of the Buchanan / Renard / MacKenna series but what I like it that Julie Garwood writes them so they can each stand alone. Characters have returned from previous books but they are full and fleshed out so that you don’t have to reread or try to remember how everyone got to where they are today. But everyone that I have read has been very entertaining so if you can you should start at the beginning. When writing about family drama, suspense and romance Julie Garwood is one of the best.

I am hoping we don’t have to wait another 10 years to revisit these characters. I would love to Walker have his own adventure soon as he decides whether he wants to concentrate on the family business or on his playboy pleasures.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Julie Garwood and her books visit her webpage here.

I am giving away my review copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Contest Will End August 16, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

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.”

 

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