Jun 282019
 


Bite Club (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
23rd in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (June 25, 2019)
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1496718364
ISBN-13: 978-1496718365
Kindle ASIN: B07HVS1JPT

Melanie Travis’s new book club caters to readers craving fiction—with bite! But when a real-life murder case bares its fangs, she’ll need to swap dog-eared novels for a lengthy suspect list . . .

Thanks to Aunt Peg and her enthusiastic pedigree dog show pals, Melanie’s aptly named Bite Club reading group has book lovers all over town burying their noses in thrilling murder mysteries. But another pet project surfaces when Melanie reluctantly agrees to train a Bulldog puppy for elusive member Evan Major. Between the unusual bruise on his face and a bizarre run-in with an unknown dog show attendee, introverted Evan can’t dodge trouble. It even sends him to an early grave—while landing Melanie in the hot seat for homicide . . .

Caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, Melanie delves into the victim’s shady past to prove her innocence. As she uncovers a juicy scandal that cost Evan his marriage and, possibly, his life, Melanie realizes that booking the real culprit comes down to gathering her pack of suspects together at the next Bite Club meeting. What she doesn’t know is Aunt Peg has been hiding some explosive secrets of her own—secrets that, once unleashed, could pit Melanie against an unpredictable killer bent on bringing this story to an abrupt end . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Melanie Travis had the grand idea of starting a book club with a group of his friends who love mysteries and the Bite Club is born. Then her Aunt Peg butts in and invites a bunch of “friends of her own”. A band of dog show buffs that would never say NO to a judge that could hold their dog’s fates in her hands. One of the other members brings a guest but his true reason for attending is revealed as soon as the meeting ends. Evan Major is new in town and has just purchased a bulldog puppy and he asks Melanie to help train the dog. Melanie agrees and soon takes the man under her wing even inviting him to a weekend dog show. She sees a different side of him when he gets into an argument with another man at the dog show.

When Melanie arrives for her second training session with Major and his dog Bully, she finds the pup roaming around outside by himself. After pounding on the man’s door and getting no answer she takes Bully home to her already dog-filled house. When the police come knocking on her door she knows the news won’t be good. Evan Major is dead and one of his neighbors saw Melanie at the house the day before. Yup, she is on the suspect list!

She decides to take a “bite outta crime” to find the killer herself and she uncovers scandal and secrets galore.

___

The Travis family including all the canines is my favorite cozy family. With everything, she has going on in her life her starting a book club was really no surprise and neither was Aunt Peg’s takeover. Peg tries Melanie’s patience almost every day of the week. In this story, she also gets on Davey’s nerves as well. Peg is a formidable woman and everyone knows to just back off and let her do her thing. I find the way Laurien Berenson portrays her characters is amazing. True to life and so much fun to follow. She takes time to catch readers up on life with the Travis family before introducing any new characters in a believable way before she dives into the murder mystery part of the story.

This time the body wasn’t found until about 1/3 of the way through the book and that was perfect. We didn’t know everything about Evan Major but we knew enough to care about who killed him because we knew Melanie is no killer. What the author lays out is a pretty complex mystery with several other suspects. I loved the way the book club was utilized with the classic cozy tradition of getting as many suspects in one room as possible in hopes of getting them to out themselves or others they are close too. Wonderful plotting made this story a delight to read.

In addition to getting into the main mystery, Melanie is asked to solve another one for a close friend. Afraid to overstep, she finds herself shy about fulfilling the request. When push comes to shove she makes a very interesting observation that shines the problem in a whole different light.

As always, dogs are featured lovingly from the first page to the last. We get behind the scenes at dog shows and a look at how much grooming goes into keeping Melanie’s adorable poodles in fine form. A special treat is her first poodle, Faith. The dog is empathetic and a perfect pal to have when you are feeling down. She is also an excellent sounding board for Melanie because they have a special understanding. Melanie talks to Faith the same way I do with my dogs. Faith understands Melanie better than Oreo and Nera do me but we get our points across. 🙂

That special bulldog on the cover stole my heart. Ms. Berenson uses Evan’s experiences to help people who don’t have or haven’t had dogs understand what commitment is made whether you have a purebred show dog or a rescued mutt you are a vital part of their lives and need to plan accordingly.

Each slice of life we get to explore with Melanie Travis is engaging, completely holds my attention and always makes me a bit sad when I reach the final page.

While this is a long-running series each book is written to stand on its own. Don’t be afraid to take a huge bite out of Bite Club. I can’t promise you won’t want to devour every other Melanie Travis Canine Mystery.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

THE REST OF THE SERIES


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
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Contest Will End July 12, 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 TO ENTER 

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 282018
 

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.

I lost a day of reading on Saturday due to the Walk for Hope, Kaden’s game and dinner out. I was exhausted when I got home and was awakened by my husband a little while later with my Kindle in my hand. So I got ready for bed and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Because of that, I am sharing a review will you again from 2016 and I have an Advance Review Copy to give away. 

 

LiveandLetGrowl-lowres


Cozy Mystery
19th in Series
Setting – Kentucky
Kensington (July 26, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496703385
E-Book ASIN: B017G7HE8U
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

When her Aunt Peg lands a gig as judge at a Kentucky dog show, Melanie Travis welcomes the opportunity for a road trip. Too bad a killer has planned a deadly detour . . .

For a dog lover like Melanie, the opportunity to attend the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster is not to be missed. Fortunately, the timing coincides with her spring break from teaching, so she heads for central Kentucky with her sister-in-law Bertie and Aunt Peg, who’s accepted a week-long judging assignment. Once there, Aunt Peg reconnects with an old friend, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, a former Standard Poodle exhibitor and a member of a well-heeled Kentucky family. Miss Ellie has been out of the dog show world for more than a decade, but when Melanie invites her to spectate at the Louisville Kennel Club dog show, she’s eager to accompany her.

Miss Ellie’s presence at the expo center, however, provokes mixed reactions from exhibitors she hasn’t seen in years, including some outright animosity. The following day Melanie learns that Miss Ellie has suffered a fatal accident while exercising her dogs. Aunt Peg, however, suspects foul play. Wishing to avoid any scandal, Miss Ellie’s pedigreed family prefers to let sleeping dogs lie, but as Melanie begins to sniff around, she discovers Miss Ellie had many secrets, both in the dog show world and amongst her Kentucky kin . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Racehorses and dogs come together as Melanie, Bertie and Peg head to the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster and to check out Peg’s new inheritance. They aren’t just horsing around either when one of Peg’s old friends, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, is found dead. Accident or murder, Peg is like a dog with a bone to get answers.

I am so late to the Melanie Travis Mystery Party and I still don’t understand how I have missed this series. But let me tell you, Laurien Berenson made me feel right at home. I jumped right into this story and enjoyed it immensely. She gave enough of a backstory that I never felt lost or that I was missing some important details. That is hard to do with a long-standing series as this. I love these characters and want to go back up and read much more about them and find out how this wonderful group came together.

The only hesitation I had was understanding the horse breeding, selling, training processes but that is a very complicated thing unless you live in that world. It was totally on me not on the author’s storytelling.

I so enjoyed learning about the wonderful poodles and the Jack Russell Terriers. As a parent to two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes, I understand clearly how each breed has their own tendencies, traits, and idiosyncrasies. No matter what they are we love them and the author’s love was shining from the beginning of this story until the end.

Laurien Berenson writes a heck of a mystery too. Right up until the end we were guessing about what happened and why and who was responsible. It went right down to the wire just like a great horse race.

I am excited to read more of these stories, catching up and going forward.

Thank you, Ms. Berenson, for a delightful story to curl up with.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

GIVEAWAY
 I have 1 ARC 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.

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 12, 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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Jun 272018
 


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to have Laurien Berenson visit today!

What a Bright Idea
by Laurien Berenson

The question I’m asked most frequently is, where do you get your ideas? The short answer to that: everywhere. Ideas come from news segments and conversations, and from things that happen all around me. Something as small as a single phrase or a fragment of a description will often cause me to pause and think, But what if…?

Occasionally a great idea will present itself fully formed and demand to be written about. That was the case with my first cozy mystery. A PEDIGREE TO DIE FOR, the debut book in the Melanie Travis series, was published in the 1990’s. But long before I sat down to write it, I already had the germ of a plot in mind.

In those days I was breeding and showing Miniature Poodles. I was also writing occasional articles for The New York Times. So when a Toy Poodle breeder in Michigan announced that her top stud dog had been stolen–and that the FBI and her local police had laughed when she’d asked for their assistance in finding him–that certainly caught my attention. Jane Winne offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to her dog’s return. I queried my editor, then called to interview her about the theft.

Champion Syntifny’s Piece of the Rock was an ice white Toy Poodle who stood just ten inches tall. He had been a star in the show ring and he was proving to be a standout sire as well. Rocky was producing offspring who possessed the conformation, the temperament, and the charisma to become champions like their sire.

Jane had been offered a large sum of money for her dog. When she turned it down, she was offered a blank check. A week after she declined the second offer, Rocky was stolen from her kennel in the middle of the night.

I wrote the story for The New York Times and subsequently, both the FBI and the Michigan police opened their own investigations. I followed all the developments avidly. Unfortunately, Jane Winne’s story did not have a happy ending. Rocky–who was believed to have been taken out of the country–was never found.

Although that tragic event served as the genesis for A PEDIGREE TO DIE FOR, my book was a work of fiction. It had a very different cast of characters. My plot veered off in a totally new direction. And I got to make sure that justice was served in the end.

Since then, there have been twenty-one new Melanie Travis mysteries including the just-released book, RUFF JUSTICE. This time the plot revolves around the death of a canine portrait artist and, once again, Melanie finds herself on the trail of a murderer. I love writing cozy mysteries because it’s important to me that all the animals in my books remain safe. And that my characters—both human and canine–find the happy ending that Jane and Rocky never did.

~Laurien

Thank you, Laurien, so much for being my guest today! My heart just breaks over the loss of that poodle. 

Now let me tell you what I thought of Ruff Justice!

Ruff Justice (Melanie Travis Canine Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
22nd in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (June 26, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496703464
ISBN-13: 978-1496703460
Kindle ASIN: B07638WZN2

 

 

As the owner of prize-winning Poodles, Melanie Travis knows how to handle fierce competition. But when a conformation show turns deadly, it’ll take every trick in the book to outsmart a murderer who refuses to lose . . .

With the excitement of the spring dog show season sweeping Connecticut, Melanie is determined to help her son finally lead his Standard Poodle toward a championship title. Aunt Peg even skips the judging panel to exhibit a pup of her own, and she’s set on standing out from the pack with a handmade leash from Jasmine Crane, a talented canine portrait artist who also crafts stunning accessories for discriminating show-goers. Jasmine’s handiwork is to die for—but Aunt Peg didn’t expect to discover the woman murdered behind the concession booth, strangled by one of her dazzling custom creations . . .

Another shockwave ripples through the close-knit show community when Amanda, Aunt Peg’s longtime dog sitter and a renter on Jasmine’s property, ominously vanishes that same day. While nosing around for clues, Melanie suspects a dangerous connection between Amanda’s disappearance and the homicide case—a hunch that grows as her investigation reveals sketchy secrets about the late artist. Juggling a demanding teaching job, the pressures of the show ring, and a daunting suspect list, Melanie finds herself entangled in a mind-boggling murder mystery . . . and hot on the trail of a desperate killer . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Dog show competitions are a big part of Melanie Travis’ and her family’s life. Her Aunt Peg got the ball rolling and now their house is filled with 5 Standard Poodles and one spotted mutt. Four of the poodles are retired show champions and the poodle that belongs to her 13-year-old son Davey is just a few points away from his championship. Dog shows also include a lot of vendors who sell the wares to the attendees. Over time a close-knit community is formed. Aunt Peg had taken an interest in an artist, Jasmine Crane,  who had added accessories like collars and leashes to her custom canine portrait business. Peg had ordered a new leash for her new puppy. When she arrived at Jasmine’s booth to pick it up she found something most disturbing.  The artist was dead, a custom leash was around her neck, another murder.

Peg gets Melanie involved immediately. Then Peg learns her dog sitter and tenant of Jasmine Crane is missing. Is she missing because she killed her landlord? Or has the killer taken her life too? Or is she hiding because she is in danger? Melanie is searching for answers and is ready to deal out some Ruff Justice, that is even the killer doesn’t set their eyes on her first!

I first have to say that I absolutely envy Melanie Travis and her husband Sam and how they handle a household full of 2 sons, 13-year-old Davey and 4-year-old Kevin, the 5 poodles and a wonderful mutt named Bud, all while holding down jobs, weekends full of dog shows, and everything Aunt Peg throws at them. Even when you add a murder and missing person, they still manage to stay on top of everything. Their lives are far from easy can be full of drama, but there are so many moments that had me laughing out loud. Ms. Berenson has created a cast of loveable characters, both human and canine. Over the course of these series, they have become old friends.

She has also created a spectacular mystery. Everyone at the dog show is a suspect. The police seem to be stumped, but because Melanie knows the dog show world inside and out and Aunt Peg knows everybody in the dog show world, Melanie is quick to sort out who actually would have wanted Jasmine Crane dead. She also gets a good handle on why the dog sitter is missing. Now she just has to go through the paces and ask the right questions to collar the real culprit. It was so much fun to follow Melanie with each twist and each turn until the whole mystery comes together.

I found the subplot of the new student in Melanie’s school very interesting. She takes her Standard Poodle, Faith, to school with her every day. Faith has a way of getting the kids relaxed and ready to learn as Melanie tutors them. A new student opens up to Melanie about a problem she was having after just a couple of sessions. I loved the way she handled the issue head-on. and gave some really good advice.

My dogs are a little more low maintenance in the grooming department being Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes, they had no dog shows to worry about. But their temperament reminds me a lot of Melanie’s dog Faith. They are my canine companions and read my emotions pretty easily. At almost 15 years old we have a lot of history, but they are slowing down a bit. Our vet told us to prepare ourselves because they are getting up there in age. I don’t even want to think about life without them. Like the dogs in this story and like dogs in most families they are an integral part of our lives. Laurien Berenson brings what I feel every day to life in her stories.

I always recommend reading a series from the start but this author’s writing style really makes each book stand on its own. Fans of this series are going to love this book, but cozy lovers and dog lovers, don’t hesitate to jump in here for a little Ruff Justice. Ms. Berenson has written a terrific story!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.


Thanks to the author I have 1 copy to give away!
The 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.

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

Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.

Sign Up for Laurien’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 publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End July 11, 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 102017
 

Wagging through the Snow (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
21st in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (September 26, 2017)
Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496712981
Kindle ASIN: B01N9NEDRF

 

Melanie Travis needs a little peace from her busy life this Christmas. But the usual holiday hubbub is a joy compared to the killer surprise she finds tucked underneath the tree . . .

With a demanding teaching job at Connecticut’s elite Howard Academy and five poodles scampering around the house, Melanie barely has energy for the upcoming Christmas rush. But she unwraps an unexpected challenge when her brother and ex-husband, elated by the recent success of their country café, make a spontaneous bid on a dilapidated pine tree farm. Although the ten-acre lot had been a popular seasonal destination while the original owner was still alive, it’ll take some sprucing up—and a small miracle or two—before the neglected place is in shape for December.

Unfortunately, the impromptu business venture goes cold when the group discovers a purebred Maltese whimpering in the snow-covered grove—right beside a dead body. Pete, a squatter who camped out on the land, apparently met his end after a fallen fir tree branch knocked him on the head. But as Melanie and Aunt Peg investigate Pete’s history and the terrible habit that cost him everything, it’s clear his death was no accident. Now, Melanie must run through a flurry of likely suspects and muzzle a dogged murderer in time—or she’ll be next on someone’s deadly list.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Look at the cute little face on the cover. I want one! but am restraining myself because my two canine companions would not like another dog in our house. At 14 years old, they are pretty set in their ways.

Melanie Travis is counting down the days until the holiday break at Howard Academy while taking care of the usual Christmas things at home. When her brother announces he has brought a Christmas tree farm without consulting his partner, Melanie’s ex husband, she is very surprised. Even more surprising in that her brother wants her to inform her ex about this “great deal”.  The extended family all gathers to check out the place and discovers it needs a bit of work to open in time for the Christmas shoppers but together they think they can handle it. That is until they find a dead man in the woods. They also find a cute little dog by his side. The police rule it an accidental death but Melanie and Aunt Peg aren’t sure that is the case. They start their own investigation and find their aren’t too many people sad that the man is dead. Their suspect list seems to grow as each day passes until the killer turns their sights on Melanie, she stuck her nose into something that was not her business and she may be the next cold body her family finds.

This is a doggone great story especially if you love dogs like I do. Melanie and her husband, Sam have enough dogs in their house to form a doggie basketball team. They also have two sons, Davey and Kevin, so to say life at their house is busy is a huge understatement, but she still finds time to help her brother and tag along with her Aunt Peg at a moment’s notice.  She is also close to her ex, Davey’s dad, and his new wife. I am always amazed at their organizational skills and patience as they juggle all these balls in the air. The character development is outstanding. The characters are real and so engaging. A strong blended family portrayal like this is heartwarming.

The mystery this time deals with a homeless man and his alcoholism that has driven almost all of his friends and family away. The plot leads us back in time to see how his life progressed until he was found dead. Melanie’s compassion shines as she tries to find answers and justice for a man she never met. While the story handles serious issues it is also full of laugh out loud moments. Ms. Bererson manages to merge everything together masterfully.

This series has been going strong for several years but don’t let that stop you from jumping in with this holiday story. Each mystery is contained to its book and the author gives you enough character information to never feel lost. I can’t promise that you won’t want to read previous installments though after reading this one. In fact I would be surprised if you didn’t. It is a terrific series.

Wagging Through the Snow is a perfect escape and the perfect holiday gift for any dog lover on your list. Don’t wait for the snow to fly before you get your copy!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give 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.

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

Leave a comment for the author 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 publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End October 24, 2017 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.”

Share
Jun 202017
 

This book comes out next Tuesday!


Murder at the Puppy Fest (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
20th in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (June 27, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496703422
Kindle ASIN: B01M0NOIZK

 

 

Frolicking with dogs is Melanie Travis’s idea of heaven. So when she’s invited to be a “puppy wrangler” at a benefit for a local dog rescue, the last thing she expects is to be chasing after a tricky killer…

As a busy mom and pedigree Poodle owner, Melanie has little time to spare. Still, she doesn’t mind helping out at Puppy Fest, an annual fundraiser to benefit Puppy Posse, a local dog rescue organization. Considering the venue—Belle Haven mansion, owned by wealthy philanthropist Leo Brody—it’s shaping up to be the can’t-miss charity event of the summer. Unfortunately, when Melanie’s breeding background lands her in the doghouse with Jane, Leo’s snappy daughter who runs the rescue, Melanie finds herself simultaneously managing Puppy Fest and the millionaire’s hopelessly fractious family.

But once Puppy Fest kicks off, Leo is nowhere to be found—until Melanie discovers his current mistress crouching over his dead body. According to police, the father of nine’s severe nut allergy went into overdrive after he accidentally consumed a contaminated cookie. However, Libby, one of Leo’s children and a friend of Melanie’s Aunt Peg, believes someone deliberately put him down for good. And now, she’s begging a reluctant Melanie to unearth the secrets hidden by the Brody pack. But the closer Melanie gets to fetching answers, the higher the stakes become—and the more she realizes that she’s chasing a criminal who’s been groomed to win…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A Puppy Fest sounds like a great fundraiser and a lot of fun, until the the millionaire hosting the gala is found dead and Melanie is the one that finds him with his mistress right next to his body.  He appears to have had a severe allergic reaction to nuts in some cookies. (Same allergy I have.) The man, Leo Brody not only had millions, he had 3 ex-wives and 9 children and several grandchildren too. All of who will be inheriting his millions. One of his offspring believes his death was no accident and she wants Melanie to find out who did him in.

A subplot involving a dog rescue also brings a new four legged friend to Melanie’s house too.

I get a huge smile on my face when I start reading these stories. Melanie, husband Sam, sons Davey and Kevin, along with their Standard Poodles, Faith, Tar, Augie, Eve and Raven, make a pretty full household but they seem to have everything down to a science. Melanie and Sam are very organized because they have to be. They are pretty easy going and most of the time the boys a very well behaved. Melanie’s Aunt Peg stops by almost daily. She is a little pushy for my tastes but her heart is in the right place.

In this installment, Melanie has been recruited to help wrangle puppies as they get ready for the puppy bowl, part of the Puppy Fest raising money for a local dog rescue. She doesn’t get off on the right foot with the rescue owner and is set on various errands were she meets most of the Brody family. They are quite a bunch. When their father/grandfather ends up dead she is forced to meet with each of them again. Yes, they are all suspects but she finds herself stumped as to who actually would have killed the man. The author has created very unique characters. Their tumultuous upbringing has effecting each of them in a different way.

The story moves right along because Melanie and her family have a very busy life with work, soccer camp, dog shows and preparation, and general family things. Add trying to solve whether Joe Brody death was accidental or murder isn’t really her first concern, especially when she really has no skin in the game. She is not a suspect and no one she loves is a suspect, but she does love to try to solve this mysteries. But her investigation can put her and the people she loves in danger.

Again Laurien Berenson’s characters and their situations keep us engaged from the very first page. The subplot I mentioned above starts the whole story and while I really enjoyed the mystery, this was my favorite part of the book. Davey wrapped himself right around my heart and when the story ended I wanted to reach right into the pages and give him a huge hug.

Cozy lovers and dog lovers this book should be on your summer reading list. Whether you are a fan of the series or it is brand new to you the story can be read on its own. Warning – After that you may want to read the whole series 🙂

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

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I am giving my review copy 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

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

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Contest Will End July 4, 2017 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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Dec 232016
 

9WbGnJTR
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.


The Bark Before Christmas
(A Melanie Travis Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington (September 29, 2015)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758284587
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758284594
E-Book ASIN: B00RRT30B8

 

 

 

The Bark Before Christmas by Laurien Berenson – Melanie Travis has her hands full with her two young sons, a part-time job, and a half dozen Poodles to her name. But even with the busy holiday season approaching, she still has time to sniff out a Christmastime killer…

There’s nothing lovelier than Christmas in Connecticut, but Melanie can scarcely find a moment to enjoy the festivities. With her youngest son approaching toddler-hood, she’s decided to return to her old job at Howard Academy, a posh private school attended by the children of Greenwich’s well-heeled gentry. Balancing work, motherhood, and the hectic dog show circuit takes some fancy footwork, especially when the headmaster taps her to be the chairman of the school’s Christmas Bazaar.

The Christmas Bazaar is Howard Academy’s biggest and most important fundraiser, so Melanie feels the pressure to make it a huge success. She even enlists her long-suffering sister-in-law Bertie to help with the Santa Claus and Pets Photo Booth. But everything goes awry when a prize show dog goes missing and Santa turns up dead. The dog’s owner is one of the school’s most perfectly pedigreed alums, and she enlists Melanie to help find the purloined pooch. But just as Melanie starts pawing at the truth, she digs up a sleighful of sinister secrets that leaves everyone feeling less than merry…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I jumped into this series late, reviewing Live and Let Growl in July. Since then I found this book on my TBR shelf and have been looking forward to reading it during the holidays. Again the author gives us plenty of information about the characters to make this book easily read all on its own.

Christmas for Melanie Travis also includes stepping in to chair the Christmas Bazaar fundraiser at Howard Academy. The main event at the bazaar is the Santa Claus and Pets Photo Booth. With her family’s ties to the dog show community they are able to spread the word and she hopes many will bring their show dogs and pets for a picture with Santa making the whole event a huge success. But when Santa is found dead and a pricey show dog goes missing things get out of control. The dog’s owner and her Aunt Peg hold Melanie responsible for the lost dog and demand she find it immediately. The school also hopes she finds out why and how the Santa ended up dead. This whole thing could tarnish the school’s reputation. If she expects to be able to celebrate the holidays with her family she needs to solve both parts of this case faster than Santa travels on Christmas Eve.

What a story but I have mixed emotions about the story as a whole! First I was drawn in my Melanie’s dedication to the school and her students. She is the teacher that helps the kids that get behind and need a little help or that have learning disabilities and need to learn differently. She also brings her large Standard Poodle, Faith, to class with her everyday. The dog helps her reach students in a delightful way. One of these student’s parents are splitting up and dealing with that has made things difficult for her at school. Her mother is the owner of the dog that goes missing at the bazaar. This girl’s story just ripped open my heart.

Berenson took this girl’s story at tipped it on its ear and wove a very creative mystery around it with plenty of turns. I started to figure out the clues just a bit before Melanie.

Maybe because I am new to this series Aunt Peg really made me pause. Overbearing, yes, but to me she did come off as rude and uncaring a few times. Thankfully Melanie has much more patience than I. Had my mother or aunt shown up in my home uninvited at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning, complaining that I and my children were still in our pajamas I would have exploded. SUNDAY AT 7 A.M.! Then another time she took Melanie to task for her plans to go pick out a Christmas tree with her family instead of looking for the missing dog.

Truthfully I still don’t see how Melanie is responsible for the missing dog or the dead Santa. She was not the person that hired the Santa and it was the owner’s choice to keep the dog in a crate while she worked at the bazaar. I do admire the way Melanie handled the whole situation and the way she figured out the truth and solves the mystery.

I enjoyed reading about Melanie, Sam, Davey, Kevin, and even Aunt Peg when she isn’t ripping Melanie apart. Plus I really love reading about the dogs and the dog shows. I hope to be able to start this series from the beginning and she how they got where they are now.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About Laurien Berenson

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away an Advance 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.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads 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 January 6, 2017 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 272016
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am very excited to welcome Laurien Berenson to Escape With Dollycas! 

LaurienB2016Welcome to My World!

by Laurien Berenson

I was talking to a friend the other day about books. He told me, almost apologetically, that he doesn’t read books. He said that it never occurs to him to pick one up.

I understand that we live in a fast-paced world. I know that everyone has smart phones, streaming video, and access to a 24/7 news cycle. But I still can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for someone who has never discovered the wonder of reading.

For me, reading has always been the most glorious escape. In good times, I read for pleasure. In not-so-good times I read for solace. Reading transports me to places I’ve never been—and sometimes to places I never want to go. A story can lift my mood, make me think, or scare me half to death. Great storytellers let me see the world through their eyes, and they open my mind to possibilities I might never have previously envisioned.

LiveandLetGrowl-lowresIt’s no wonder that when I was a child my favorite presents were always books. If I was really lucky they were books about dogs or horses.

Aside from reading, the other constant in my life has always been the presence of animals. Now I’m fortunate to be able to combine my two passions as the author of the Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series. Let me say right up front that I am not just a writer of cozy mysteries, I am also a huge fan. This is a genre that has something for everyone: humor, quirky characters, great writing, and interesting settings.

My series grew out of my personal experience breeding and showing Standard and Miniature Poodles. I am the third generation in my family to show dogs and my grandmother was also a dog show judge. I spent more than twenty years in the dog show world and it didn’t take me long to discover what a fertile setting it would make for a mystery series!

Now that the 19th book in the series, LIVE AND LET GROWL, is about to be released, I’ve moved to greener pastures and Melanie Travis does too (at least for one adventure). I have transitioned from breeding Poodles to breeding Thoroughbred race horses. This book takes my two main characters, Melanie and her Aunt Peg, to the Bluegrass state of Kentucky where they become involved in shenanigans taking place in the world of horse racing.

Take it from me, dogs and horses are a great combination!

In LIVE AND LET GROWL I had the opportunity to explore a setting that most people only think about once a year on the 1st Saturday in May: Kentucky Derby day. But the Thoroughbred industry—both the horses themselves and those who care for them–are so much more than just that one premier event.

It’s my pleasure to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at a milieu that’s exciting and different. I hope you enjoy stepping into my world as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

~~ Laurien

LiveandLetGrowl-lowres

Live and Let Growl
(A Melanie Travis Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
19th in Series
Setting – Kentucky
Kensington (July 26, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496703385
E-Book ASIN: B017G7HE8U
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

When her Aunt Peg lands a gig as judge at a Kentucky dog show, Melanie Travis welcomes the opportunity for a road trip. Too bad a killer has planned a deadly detour . . .

For a dog lover like Melanie, the opportunity to attend the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster is not to be missed. Fortunately, the timing coincides with her spring break from teaching, so she heads for central Kentucky with her sister-in-law Bertie and Aunt Peg, who’s accepted a week-long judging assignment. Once there, Aunt Peg reconnects with an old friend, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, a former Standard Poodle exhibitor and a member of a well-heeled Kentucky family. Miss Ellie has been out of the dog show world for more than a decade, but when Melanie invites her to spectate at the Louisville Kennel Club dog show, she’s eager to accompany her.

Miss Ellie’s presence at the expo center, however, provokes mixed reactions from exhibitors she hasn’t seen in years, including some outright animosity. The following day Melanie learns that Miss Ellie has suffered a fatal accident while exercising her dogs. Aunt Peg, however, suspects foul play. Wishing to avoid any scandal, Miss Ellie’s pedigreed family prefers to let sleeping dogs lie, but as Melanie begins to sniff around, she discovers Miss Ellie had many secrets, both in the dog show world and amongst her Kentucky kin . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Racehorses and dogs come together as Melanie, Bertie and Peg head to the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster and to check out Peg’s new inheritance. They aren’t just horsing around either when one of Peg’s old friends, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, is found dead. Accident or murder, Peg is like a dog with a bone to get answers.

I am so late to the Melanie Travis Mystery Party and I still don’t understand how I have missed this series. But let me tell you, Laurien Berenson made me feel right at home. I jumped right into this story and enjoyed it immensely. She gave enough of a backstory that I never felt lost or that I was missing some important details. That is hard to do with a long standing series as this. I love these characters and want to go back up and read much more about them and find out how this wonderful group came together.

The only hesitation I had was understanding the horse breeding, selling, training processes but that is a very complicated thing unless you live in that world. It was totally on me not on the author’s storytelling.

I so enjoyed learning about the wonderful poodles and the Jack Russell Terriers. As a parent to two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes, I understand clearly how each breed has their own tendencies, traits and idiosyncrasies. No matter what they are we love them and the author’s love was shining from the beginning of this story until the end.

Laurien Berenson writes a heck of a mystery too. Right up until the end we were guessing about what happened and why and who was responsible. It went right down to the wire just like a great horse race.

I am excited to read more of these stories, catching up and going forward.

Thank you Ms. Berenson for a delightful story to curl up with.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the author 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.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

This year I am trying to build my Twitter following so for this giveaway 4 Bonus Entries will be awarded by following me on Twitter. @dollycas

Leave a comment for Laurien 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 publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End August 10, 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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