Aug 062019
 

Risky Biscuits
(A Sugar & Spice Mystery)
by Mary Lee Ashford

 

About the Book


Risky Biscuits (A Sugar & Spice Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Iowa
Lyrical Underground (July 9, 2019)
Paperback: 190 pages
ISBN-10: 1516105079
ISBN-13: 978-1516105076
Digital ASIN: B07JDXFM7G

Former magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned . .

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.

The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Biscuits and Gravy cooks from the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club have been hosting breakfast events to raise money for the park shelter where they hold their events. The decide to bind their recipes together in a cookbook put together by Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway and Dixie Spicer aka “Sugar” and “Spice”. When the de facto leader of the Breakfast Club goes missing and is later found killed, Sugar’s landlord, a member of the group begs Sugar to look into the tragic death. Sugar does have an in as she needs to attend meetings and contact members to keep the fundraising cookbook on track. Plus the gossip chain has ratcheted up with the return of Nick Marchant to town. He and “Spicy” have some kind of a past that Sugar knows nothing about but keeping her ears open and putting a little pressure on her friend she just might find out. The good sheriff is sure not thrilled the man is back in town either.

After reading Game of Scones recently I could wait to sink my teeth into Risky Biscuits. Author Mary Lee Ashford sure didn’t disappoint. She has written strong characters and enveloped them in a stellar mystery.

Sugar & Spice Publishing is getting more clients and Sugar is using her organizational skills while Spice refines a bunch of recipes all to make their next cookbook publication a huge success. Photographer Max Windsor wasn’t as present at the beginning of the story as I had hoped but he doesn’t let the ladies down when it is time to take the food photos needed for the book. We also meet several residents from Greer’s retirement community. While mourning their friend they are still a fun and feisty group.

Ms. Ashford takes a bit of time introducing the new characters and showing readers how they fit with those we had already met. But then Sugar gets hot on the trail to find the killer. Red herrings, yes there were a few. I made the mistake of thinking I had the culprit pinned down early only to be shown the error of my ways. Twists and turns led to a shocking reveal.

Aside from the murder, this little town in Iowa is a fun place to visit. I love all the friendships that are blooming.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning the food. Spice is always baking up something good. Even things she considers flops are downright tasty. She always seems to have plenty of people dropping by their shop for samples too. I wish she could pass them out from the pages, especially the Better Than Robert Redford/George Clooney cake. The author does include recipes in the back of the book but I don’t have the skills Spice has. Then again the recipe of the above mentioned doesn’t look too complicated 🙂

Culinary cozies readers will love this story.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my review of Game of Scones here.

About Mary Lee Ashford

 

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups.

In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

For more information, visit her website at www.MaryLeeAshford.com

Find her on  –  Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Pinterest – GoodReads 

Purchase Links
Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo    iBooks


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

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Jun 142019
 


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.

Game of Scones (A Sugar & Spice Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Iowa
Lyrical Underground (December 4, 2018)
Paperback: 194 pages
ISBN-10: 1516105052
ISBN-13: 978-1516105052
Kindle ASIN: B07BD1XJ8V

As co-owner of Sugar and Spice Cookbooks, Sugar Calloway has seen simple confections bring friends together and spark fiery feuds. Except this time, the recipe truly is to die for . . .

After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway—aka “Sugar” to friends—isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. So when she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch . . .

But as Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it’s not long before she’s up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town’s first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat—and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway and Dixie Spicer aka “Sugar” and “Spice” have teamed up and opened a community cookbook business, Sugar & Spice Publishing. Former food editor Sugar handles the logistics and blue-ribbon baker Spice tests the recipes.

Their first client is the committee for the local Founder’s Day Centennial Celebration. Sugar meets with the committee to discuss a duplicate scone recipe. Working with adult women, Dixie’s Aunt Bertie and Ellie Farmer, she is sure they can work it out. What happens is a shouting match that almost comes to blows. The meeting ends with no resolution. Hoping individual meetings with the bakers will solve the issue Sugar sets up a meeting with Ellie. But she finds the woman dead clutching a scone.  With the ladies’ ongoing feud Bertie quickly becomes the prime suspect. When Bertie leaves town telling no one of her plans Sheriff Terrance Griffin turns up the heat while Sugar and Dixie worry if someone has hurt Bertie too.

___

This was a delightful cozy mystery. I have been on a few fundraiser cookbook committees so this story excited me from the start. Thankfully our cookbooks were completed without any dead bodies but there were some heated conversations. People take their recipes seriously! The author includes 3 recipes at the end of the book.

Sugar and Dixie have their work cut out for them in making a business like this flourish, especially if this one is any indication. Both women have the expertise needed except they need to bring in a photographer. Enter Max Windsor, a friend of Dixie’s brother. We also meet Sugar’s pain-in-the-butt neighbor and her landlord who recently moved to a senior living community. There is a palpable tension between Dixie and the sheriff, which plays out throughout the story. These characters have a real small-town feel with gossip running rampant and a bit of Southern charm from Dixie. The dialogue is strong. While we have been given a great introduction to these characters, the author has left a lot of room for them to grow.

A little cooperation from Bertie would have removed her from the suspect list but in lieu of that Sugar and Dixie find themselves right in the middle of the investigation. It was easy to find additional suspects because the victim rubbed several people the wrong way. I enjoyed tagging along for each clue, twist, and turn. The pace had a couple of dips but quickly got back on track. The ending was exciting.

I love that this series is set in Iowa. Not too far from home for me and not a common setting for cozy mysteries even though it is full of small towns that could host this genre.

I found Game of Scones to be a very entertaining story. I am excited to see where Ms. Ashford takes her character next. Risky Biscuits will be out July 9.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About Mary Lee Ashford

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, an avid reader, and a supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

She loves encouraging writers and is a frequent lecturer and workshop presenter for writers’ groups. Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity.

She currently resides in the midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her two sons and daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.

For more information, visit her website at www.MaryLeeAshford.com

Find her on  –  FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestGoodReads 


I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy!
Book will be sent directly from Amazon.
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.

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

Contest Will End June 28, 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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May 222018
 

 

About the Book


The Face on the Other Side (Thomas O’Shea Mysteries)
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
3rd in Series
Setting – Iowa
FPS (February 10, 2018)
Paperback: 340 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1945338946

 

 

He’d promised Sheriff Payne that he wouldn’t take any more matters into his own hands. So, when on a leisurely morning drive, SEAL-trained Thomas O’Shea sees two girls attacking a boy on a sidewalk, he opts not to intervene. When the boy is later murdered in the local hospital, though, all promises are off. What seems at the start to be a simple case of gang activity turns out to be far more. Even O’Shea, who has seen more than his share of evil, could not have guessed what is about to transpire…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am so excited to tell you about this book. I reviewed the 2nd book in this series back in 2015 and have been waiting for this next story.

Thomas O’Shea is a special man, a Christian man, and ex-Navy Seal. He has been caught in some dangerous situations in the past and has vowed to stay out of trouble. When he witnesses two girls beating the heck out of a boy on the sidewalk just outside the school grounds he tries to do the right thing by contacting the police. He quickly sees they are not going to arrive in time and has to step in. The boy survives the beating but is later killed in the hospital. Mr. O’Shea feels he owes the boy justice and he convinces the sheriff to let him help with the case. Neither one ever imagined the evil they were going to face.

This story is not for the faint of heart. This is riveting, gritty, suspense-filled story that you will not be able to put down. The author has created a small Iowa town and brought big-city problems up close and personal.

Thomas O’Shea and his schoolteacher girlfriend are taking things slow, his choice, not hers. He wants to get married but she is afraid of getting that call that he has been hurt or killed. These characters and all the rest including the sheriff and O’Shea’s friend Lunatic Mooning, are so well crafted. It is so easy to picture them so clearly and be drawn in by them.

I saw in the last book that the author’s very descriptive way of telling a story made it feel as if you were watching a movie. That is even more evident in this story. It is fast paced and full of intensity.  Every time a door was opened or Thomas tracked down a suspect I was almost fearful of what was going to happen next. I knew Thomas’ heart was always in the right place but his head puts him in some dire situations. The action and drama build up to a scene that had my heart racing. I was holding my breath the whole time to see how the scene would play out.  When it ended I had to set the book down and take a few deep breaths before I could read the final chapters. Wow!! What a story!

I want to stress you do not need the previous books in this series to enjoy this story. Each book can stand on their own. If you enjoy books by Harlan Coben, David Burnsworth or Greg Iles, I know you will enjoy this book/series.

In my opinion, this story deserves more than 5 stars. It is a story I will not forget!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn’t writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts. A retired an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

Author Links

Purchase Links

Amazon

Praise for The Face on the Other Side (Thomas O’Shea Mysteries)
by John Carenen

What I liked about this story are characterization and the narration . . . I loved the suspense and guessing on the culprit till the end.
~Fantastic Feathers

The characters are well rounded and well developed. The author creates characters that will stay with you long after you have finished the book.
~MJB Reviewers

Wow, what a ride you are about to embark on as you begin turning the pages of this book.
~Maureen’s Musings

. . . this one had me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages until the end.
~My Reading Journeys

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

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Jun 152016
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

I am so pleased to welcome Elaine Orr to Escape With Dollycas today.

Orr, Elaine head small

 

Author Interests and Cozy Mysteries

by Elaine L. Orr

Mysteries can have plots as complex as a Terence Faherty’s Owen Keane novels or feature places as exotic as the Inspector Singh Asian locales. Cozy mysteries are complex, but they differ in that small-town setting and the ‘ordinary’ milieu are often as important as the crime itself.

Rarely do cozies take place on what a noir mystery might call the mean streets of New York (or Los Angeles or Chicago).

Readers enjoy a particular set of cozy mystery characters because of their profession, hobbies, or pets – something that garners interest besides the how the murderer got in and out of a locked room without being seen. I enjoy Sparke Abbey’s Pampered Pet series because I like pet antics, and Meg Muldoon’s Christmas River series because I appreciate that town and its varied shops and characters.

It’s dangerous to name favorite series – I like so many of them and there are many yet to discover.

I developed the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series with a set of friends from diverse walks of life at the Jersey shore. Some have oddball senses of humor, and several volunteer with hometown causes from time to time (think food pantry fundraisers). Why the shore? Because I love Atlantic coast beaches.

I also like professions that give characters wide-ranging ways to get in trouble. In the Jolie series, she’s a real estate appraiser who is in a lot of vacant (or at least empty) houses. She has ties to the business community, which is what keeps small towns going.

As I created a second series, I knew I wanted a small Iowa town with a focus on rural life. And humorous perspectives, of course. Again, I migrated toward water, creating the fictional town of River’s Edge along the Des Moines River in Southeast Iowa.

Farmington 2 0n 6 May 29 2016

The River’s Edge series features Melanie Perkins, a landscaper who sometimes digs up more than she bargains for.

Newsprint-to-Footprints 4 by 6Though I hadn’t anticipated writing two series set near water, I should have. I once owned a house in Maryland with an A-frame living room/dining room combo. I probably had fifteen photos on that huge wall.

After a year, I realized all had water in them. Is that weird, or what? Not bizarre to have such a sprinkling, so to speak, but to have done it without planning.

Writers create settings or professions that are very different from their lives. I think we can also be drawn to those that, at their core, represent what we like. Or perhaps wish our lives were similar to.

That’s not to say I want to spend all my own time in small towns. I’ve traveled widely for work and pleasure, and many of the people I’ve met along the way have been fodder for characters (or at least their behavior) in my books.

However, there is a special camaraderie in smaller communities. Those near water can have distinct challenges. The Des Moines River has left its banks too often, especially during the 1993 and 2008 flood seasons. Who thought flooding was a season? The Jersey shore does not have as many hurricanes as North Carolina or Florida, but when they make it up the Atlantic they may bring catastrophe.

A decent plot is essential for a good mystery, but why not learn about a hobby or part of the country at the same time?

How? At a bookselling site, use the search box to type in “cozy mysteries with.” You’ll be surprised at what pops up without further prompting (ghosts, cats, dogs, and more). Even more varied is typing “cozy mysteries in small towns.”

With more than 100,000 books published a day on Amazon, many books correspond to your interests. If you like water, tranquil or not, I hope you enjoy the Jolie Gentil or Rivers Edge series.

~Elaine

____________________________________________________________________

Newsprint-to-Footprints 4 by 6

From Newsprint to Footprints:
A River’s Edge Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Mystery
Self Published
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1519381286
E-Book ASIN: B017VN6DNQ
goodreads-badge-add-plus

 

 

“You’re fired!” Grouchy news publisher Hal Morris sends reporter Melanie Perkins packing for taking too many photos of flowers.

Panicked at being unemployed, she lands a job as a landscaper, but an ugly surprise greets her on her first day. A pile of mulch, a tangerine, and a stolen hoe cast suspicion on Melanie.

Melanie’s efforts to find a murderer instead put a target on her back. Some of the aim is coming from law enforcement, but they aren’t the ones who want to silence her permanently. Life along the Des Moines River in Iowa can be peaceful, but a murderer has no problem disturbing her tranquility.

In this, the first novel in beloved cozy mystery writer Elaine Orr’s new River’s Edge series, the author once again offers humor, believable characters and tight prose as she carries the reader to an exciting climax. Those who follow her Jolie Gentil series will find themselves right at home.

About The Author

Elaine L. Orr is the Amazon bestselling author of the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, set at the Jersey shore. Behind the Walls was a finalist for the 2014 Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Awards. The first book in Elaine’s River’s Edge cozy mystery series, From Newsprint to Footprints, debuted in late fall 2015. The second will follow in fall 2016. Elaine also writes plays and novellas. She also conducts presentations on electronic publishing and other writing-related topics. A member of Sisters in Crime, Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994. Learn more about her at www.elaineorr.com

GIVEAWAY
Elaine is giving away 3 e-copies of this book.
Books will be sent direct 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.

Leave a comment for Elaine 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 June 29, 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

Dollycas

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Oct 072015
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

It my pleasure to welcome Kathleen Ernst back to Escape With Dollycas today! 

The new Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Death on the Prairie, comes out tomorrow! 

Kathleen Ernst

 

Choosing a Setting

When I began conceptualizing the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series, I knew I wanted my protagonist to be a collections curator at Old World Wisconsin. OWW is a large living history museum where I once worked, so I had that setting locked in my mind.

I also thought it would be fun to get Chloe out and about at times as the series progressed. I loved the early Anna Pigeon books from Nevada Barr, and eagerly anticipated each as a chance to vicariously experience a new national park. I wanted my series to introduce special historic sites and museums to readers.

DeathOnThePrairieCoverWebThe new Chloe mystery, Death on the Prairie, is the sixth. As the series has grown I’ve been delighted to receive readers’ suggestions for future settings. Equally delightful are invitations from staff at various historic sites and museums.

But choosing a setting for each new book is a complicated thing—especially since it’s not the first element I consider.

The most important factor is where my main characters are, emotionally speaking, at the end of the last book. Chloe usually takes center stage, but police officer Roelke McKenna is also a recurring character. In each book Chloe and Roelke discover things about themselves, and about each other. They grow emotionally. I want their journey to be reflected in the mystery plot, which has to do with setting.

In Death on the Prairie, Chloe embarks on a road trip to visit all of the homesites dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder, her favorite author. If you’ve read Laura’s books you know that the struggle to find a home is a strong recurring theme. I’ve wanted to write about the Laura sites for years, but I needed to wait until Chloe and Roelke were at a point where the issue of finding a home had resonance for them.

I also need a site or museum that has enough landscape, if you will, to support a mystery with lots of twists and turns. Old World Wisconsin is spread on 576 acres of land within a state  forest—the largest outdoor museum of rural life in the United States. Over sixty structures have been moved and fully restored, including ten working farms and a crossroads village. All that provides plenty of room for Chloe to get into trouble.

the light keeper's legacy

The other sites Chloe visits are equally rich. The Light Keeper’s Legacy was largely set on an uninhabited island in Lake Michigan. Heritage of Darkness was set at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, housed in a big historic structure with an outdoor division of old buildings too. Tradition of Deceit was partly set in an abandoned industrial flour mill in Minneapolis, which historians were planning to turn into the Mill City Museum. Now that setting provided ample opportunity for excitement!

As much as I love one-room log cabins—and the people who have preserved them—I need more real estate to support a book. That doesn’t mean I can’t include such a cabin in a story, but it won’t work as a primary setting.

I also avoid historic structures that are, for one reason or another, a source of current conflict within a community. Is a town board divided on whether to keep funding the local museum? Is the debate causing hurt feelings and animosity among neighbors? I might one day fictionalize the kernel of dissent, but I don’t want to wade into a real debate about a real town and historic site.

The series starts in 1982 (when my museum career started), and my general plan is to write four books for each calendar year. The 7th Chloe mystery, which I’m writing now, is set in the summer of 1983. After beginning it I got an intriguing invitation that will likely lead to a mystery, but I think that particular book will also work best if it’s set in the summer. That means I have to wait several years before settling in on that.

Finally, I have to care about a place to choose it for a setting. I will spend a year or more “living” in that space while I explore its history and write the book. Loving the environment and local stories is a definite plus!

And I have to feel confident that readers will enjoy visiting a particular setting as much as I do. I love hearing from readers who visited the setting after reading a particular Chloe Ellefson mystery. Each book has a dedicated page on my website that includes maps and photos and, in some cases, tour guides to make site visits easy and armchair travel vivid.

My files of possible future locations are ever-growing. Do you have a favorite museum or historic site? I’d love to hear about it!

About Kathleen Ernst

Death on the Prairie is the 6th Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery. In addition to the Chloe series, Kathleen has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. She also writes nonfiction, including A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through The Seasons. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

Author Links:

www.kathleenernst.com

www.sitesandstories.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/kathleenernst.author

 



DeathOnThePrairieCoverWebDeath on the Prairie
(A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
6th in the Series
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2015)
Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738744704
E-Book – ASIN: B015CZD162
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Chloe Ellefson and her sister, Kari, have long dreamed of visiting each historic site dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Chloe takes custody of a quilt once owned by the beloved author, the sisters set out on the trip of a lifetime, hoping to prove that Wilder stitched it herself.

But death strikes as the journey begins, and trouble stalks their fellow travelers. Among the “Little House” devotees are academic critics, greedy collectors, and obsessive fans. Kari is distracted by family problems, and unexpected news from Chloe’s boyfriend jeopardizes her own future. As the sisters travel deeper into Wilder territory, Chloe races to discover the truth about a precious artifact—and her own heart—before a killer can strike again.

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

If you are a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder you know there subsets to the fan base. The group that loves both the books and the television show, those that love the books but not the television show, those that loved the show but probably never read the books. Chloe Ellefson and her sister, Kari are in the book loving group. A friend has just given Chloe a quilt that supposedly made by Little House author to authenticate. The timing is perfect because Chloe has been asked to speak during a tour around the Midwest visiting all the places Laura and her family lived. Chloe invites her sister along and they embark on the journey of there dreams.  Both are so excited as they reach their first destination but one of the traveler has some sort of attack and dies before the event even gets started. Chloe tries to help and she soon realizes this death was no accident. The tour continues but trouble follows them. Soon Chloe is looking for more than provenance for her quilt. She is on the trail of a killer.

I am a  fan of both the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and the television show. I loved the Olesons, especially when the Mr. stood up to the Mrs. 🙂 I am also a fan of Chloe Ellefson Mysteries. It started because they are set in Wisconsin but grew because I love Chloe and all the drama she gets involved in. I also like how real her relational with Roelke is, they take one step forward and sometimes two steps back, but you know they truly love and support each other. This time he is dealing with something back in Wisconsin while she is traveling and since the book is set in 1983 there are no cell phones so communication isn’t easy. Kari is also dealing with something and even in the same room she and Chloe are not communicating.

What makes this story interesting is that that the group is traveling from state to state, so the crimes of murder and vandalism fall into different police jurisdictions so it is hard for law enforcement to bring all the clues together, but Chloe is putting them together and putting herself in danger.

Kathleen Ernst always blends history with fiction in a very entertaining way. The other travelers and those guiding the tours were very detailed and unique. I could picture them easily. The mystery is thoughtfully plotted and I was surprised by the ending.

 I did not realize that all of these historic sites existed. Now I want to take the tour myself, no dead bodies please.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAY

The author is giving 1 copy of this book away!!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US 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 Kathleen for 5 Bonus Entries.

Do you have a favorite museum or historic site? I’d love to hear about it!

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 October 21, 2015 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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May 162015
 

a far gone night large banner640

A FAR GONE NIGHT
by John Carenen

AFGN CoverA Far Gone Night
(Thomas O’Shea Mystery, #2)
Setting – Iowa/Minnesota
Mystery – Thriller
Perfect Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Neverland Publishing Company, LLC (September 8, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0990314851
E-Book ASIN: B00NUU4AOO
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Synopsis:

Suffering from insomnia, wise-cracking tough guy Thomas O’Shea goes for a late-night stroll through the peaceful streets of Rockbluff, Iowa, and finds himself pausing downtown on the bridge that spans the Whitetail River. When he glances downstream, something catches his eye…something that looks like a body. He scrambles down to the riverbank, pulling the body of a young girl from the water. The girl is naked, with two bullet holes in the back of her head. Ever suspicious of law enforcement, O’Shea chooses not to mention the bullet holes when Deputy Stephen Doltch, on routine patrol, discovers him at the river’s edge.

When the coroner’s report lists the cause of death as “drowning,” Thomas confronts the coroner, but his questions are met with hostility. Then the coroner and his wife disappear, along with the body of the dead girl.

Teaming up with his friend Lunatic Mooning and Clancy Dominguez, an old buddy from his Navy SEAL days, Thomas and the other two men join together to bring justice to the dead girl, a quest that takes them to the Chalaka Reservation in Minnesota, seedy businesses adjacent to the Chalaka Casino, and straight into the world of organized crime.

A fast-paced story, laugh-out-loud moments and familiar, quirky characters from Carenen’s debut novel, Signs of Struggle, continue to enliven the complex world of Thomas O’Shea. Once again, Thomas gears up to find answers that will reveal who put the bullets in the girl’s head, why she was killed, and her identity, which may hit a little too close to home…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I am so glad I started organizing book tours and that John’s daughter found me to put together a tour for him or I would have missed this book and the one before it that I now need to read. I usually think of Iowa as a pretty quiet place except for the Republican political craziness that happens there. Organized crime, high stakes gambling, Navy Seals, who knew??

I absolutely love Thomas O’Shea! He is a tough guy with a heart and struggles every day to uphold his Christian faith with the things he does to find the truth and take on the bad guys. His friend Lunatic Mooning, yes that is his name, is quite a character as well.

I also love the way John Carenen tells this story. Yes, it is very fast paced but very descriptive as well and the characters are so engaging. There is also plenty of action. I felt more like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book. There is bit of humor, O’Shea has some great one liners. There are also several tense moments that had it been a movie I would have been sneaking peeks from behind my hand over my face. I was totally immersed in the story from the first page until the last word. This is one of those books that gives people like me a “book hangover” because once I started reading I just couldn’t stop until I finished it.

I have not read Signs of Struggle yet and had no trouble at all reading this book as a stand alone. I plan to read it as soon though because I want to be ready for book #3 when it is released.  Another new to me author I want to shout from the rooftops about!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Dad_and_Roxie_-_photo_for_back_cover_and_website About This Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared in numerous popular and literary magazines, and he has been a featured columnist in newspapers in North and South Carolina. A novel, Son-up, Son-down was published by the National Institute of Mental Health.

His debut Thomas O’Shea mystery novel,
Signs of Struggle
, was published in October of 2012.
A Far Gone Night
, the long-anticipated sequel, continues the exploits of the enigmatic protagonist and the quirky characters of Rockbluff, Iowa.

John is currently an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina. He and his wife live in their cozy cottage down a quiet lane in northern Greenville, South Carolina. He is a big fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox.

neverland

Author Links:

www.curlylarryandme.wordpress.com,

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4721052.John_Carenen?from_search=true,

https://www.facebook.com/CarenenJohn

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

Tour Participants

May 13 – deal sharing aunt – Review, Interview, Print Giveaway
May 14 – readalot – Review
May 15 – Omnimystery News – Interview
May 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
May 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – Guest Post, E-Book Giveaway
May 18 – Community Bookstop – Review
May 19 – Musings and Ramblings – Guest Post, E-Book Giveaway
May 20 – Frankie Bow – Guest Post
May 21 – Tea and A Book – Review, Guest Post, Print Giveaway
May 22 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post

Giveaways as shown
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 232013
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640
Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
Thrilled to welcome Kathleen Ernst back to Escape With Dollycas today!

DSCF5536

Very Special Seniors

Kathleen Ernst

Heritage 1When I was planning my Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series, I thought hard about my two main characters.  I wanted Chloe, curator at a large historic site, and Roelke McKenna, police officer in the nearby village of Eagle, WI, to have complex and evolving stories.   I’m having a great time with Chloe and Roelke.

There are other recurring characters in the series, of course.  Those are fun to develop as well.

old world murderAnd then there are those people who appear in one book and disappear again.  I’m four books into the series now, and over the past few years I’ve been surprised but delighted by reader response.  Often characters with very small roles prompt the most feedback.

And often, those characters are seniors.  In Old World Murder, the first book in the series, a elderly woman appeals to Chloe for help.  Chloe reflects upon the request:

She genuinely liked old people.  She liked their stories, their memories, their hard-won experience.  Their mementos, their refuse, even their homes—these things comprised her chosen profession.  Mrs. Lundquist didn’t need to beg, or to cajole; Chloe truly wanted to help her.

cookiesIn the brand new mystery, Heritage of Darkness, Chloe is visiting Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  She volunteers to interview local seniors about Norwegian Christmas traditions.  Some of them share Christmas cookies and cozy memories.   Others, however, have tales of some of the more spooky customs that date back to pre-Christian times, when uneducated peasants in rural Norway feared the darkest and coldest days of the year.GoatHead-HeritageOfDarkness-SS448w

Chloe visits a woman in her nineties named Edwina Ree:

“As I’ve heard about old Christmas traditions this week,” Chloe said, “I’ve been intrigued by the transition of some aspects of holiday celebrations from pagan to Christian times.”

Edwina nodded.  “Many a good Norwegian family today considers a thorough housecleaning the first essential step of holiday preparation.  Women say they do this to welcome the infant Christ.  But as children, my grandparents were taught to clean well at Christmas because this period signaled a return of the dead.”

 “A return of the dead?”  Chloe took that in.  “I did not know that.”

“You were raised in a Christian church?”

“Lutheran.”

“Well, it hasn’t been all that many generations ago that church leaders labored to Christianize people’s worldview,” Edwina said.  “Preachers urged Norwegian folk to forget stories that had been passed down for centuries.  Have you heard of mørkemakten?”

“Um…no.”

“It refers to the power of darkness.  Our ancestors believed that evil forces were present during these dark days.” 

This theme provided perfect inspiration for a murder mystery.  And Edwina Ree became one of my own favorite characters.  Edwina was trained as an archivist, and has an academic interest in the topic.  But Chloe also observes Edwina standing alone one night on the porch of her isolated farmhouse, head tipped as if listening for the evil spirits once believed to roam the winter skies.

As a former curator myself, I—like Chloe—particularly enjoy spending time with elders.   I entered the museum world in the early 1980s.  I got to meet elderly men and women who had been born in Wisconsin, but still spoke with an accent because they were raised in tight-knit ethnic enclaves.  They shared recipes and family stories and folk traditions.  Some of my fondest memories involve time spent with those wonderful people.

Creating characters like Edwina Ree lets me pay quiet homage to that generation.  I hope you enjoy meeting some of them within the pages of Heritage of Darkness .

Are there special seniors in your life, or in your memories?  Anyone who shared special stories or traditions with you?  I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment, and your name will go into a drawing for any one of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries—winner’s choice.

I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.

For more information, visit:  http://www.kathleenernst.com/chloe_ellefson.php

About Kathleen Ernst

Bestselling writer Kathleen Ernst is the award-winning author of 25 mystery, historical fiction, and non-fiction books for adults and young readers. Her latest books include “Heritage of Darkness,” the fourth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery for adults from Midnight Ink, and “Traitor In The Shipyard,” her seventh Caroline Abbott children’s novel from American Girl.

Over the years Kathleen’s work has earned numerous honors, including multiple Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations, and an Emmy for educational programming. To date, readers have purchased 1,000,000 printed, electronic, and audio copies of her books.

Kathleen is the author of a nonfiction history book about the American Civil War, “Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign,” an alternate selection of the History Book Club. It tells the stories of non-combatants who, 150 years ago, found themselves caught up in the bloodiest day in American history.

For ten years Kathleen wrote instructional video scripts for public television; honors for those include an Emmy, Platinum Best of Show Aurora Award, and a Wilbur Schramm Award of Excellence.

Kathleen has a Masters Degree in History Education and Writing from Antioch University, where her self-designed program focused on nontraditional methods of teaching and learning history–with a special emphasis on historical fiction. She spent over a decade as a Curator of Interpretation and Collections with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Historic Sites Division, which provided great material for her novels.

She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband Scott and Sophie the cat. Some of her greatest pleasures include gardening, learning folk crafts, traveling to research new books, and hearing from readers. To that end, she maintains an extensive website, an author’s page on Facebook, and a blog called Sites and Stories on WordPress.

Heritage 1
Heritage of Darkness
(A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)

4th Book in Series
Cozy Mystery
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2013)
An Imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Trade Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738736983
E-Book File Size: 1165 KB
ASIN: B00EYIAMX4
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Dark Secrets Hidden in Norwegian Traditions

For curator Chloe Ellefson, a family bonding trip to Decorah, Iowa, for rosemaling classes seems like a great idea—until the drive begins. Chloe’s cop friend Roelke takes her mother’s talk of romantic customs good-naturedly, but it inflates Chloe’s emotional distress higher with each passing mile.

After finally reaching Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Chloe’s resolve to remain positive is squashed when she and Roelke find Petra Lekstrom’s body in one of the antique immigrant trunks. Everyone is shaken by the instructor’s murder, and when Mom volunteers to take over the beginners’ class, Chloe is put in the hot seat of motherly criticism. As she investigates, Chloe uncovers dark family secrets that could be deadly for her Mom . . . and even herself.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I love these excursions with Chloe back in time before the internet and cell phones. Yes, we did survive 🙂

Chloe really does need to rebuild her relationship with her mother and poor Roelke is caught in the middle.Both women are very stubborn and set in their ways. Can a murder bring them together or will it drive them even farther apart? No spoilers here. You will need to read it for yourself.

Beyond Chloe and her mother’s story there is a rich story of Norwegian Heritage woven within the murder mystery. I have learned so much but not in a history book way. Some of the traditions I knew from Wisconsin History classes in high school and college but put into a story such as this where they effect actual people you are getting to know gives it so much perspective. It also helps solve the mystery of the murder. 

Ernst creates such vibrant characters. She takes us back to the 80’s and even back to 1949 and 1967 to help us piece together the clues. You know she has done her research and she does travel to events so that she can bring them to life in these pages for all of us to enjoy. I picked up the first book in these series because it was set here in Wisconsin and it didn’t take more than a few chapters to become a huge fan of Kathleen Ernst. She is an awesome storyteller.

I believe you can read Heritage of Darkness easily as a stand alone, but I know then you are going to want to read the rest of of the series too. Just a little warning, I have found with Kathleen’s books, that once you start them they are extremely hard to put down so plan accordingly.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

SUPER EASY GIVEAWAY!!
U.S. ADDRESSES ONLY

Are there special seniors in your life, or in your memories? 

Anyone who shared special stories or traditions with you? 

I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment, and your name will go into a drawing
for any one of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries—winner’s choice.

Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you!!

Contest Will End November 6, 2013 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.

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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