Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Posts Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Debra H. Goldstein – Author of Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour


Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein

It is my delight to welcome Debra to Escape With Dollycas today!!

Storytelling, the Ides of March, and Reality TV
by Debra H. Goldstein

When I was in high school and read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, it sparked an interest in the Ides of March. Originally a day to settle debts, it became a day or notoriety because of it being the date Julius Caesar was killed. Its significance is that it is believed to have changed the fate of the Romans.

As a writer of mysteries, I often think about how lives and plot lines change when there is a murder.

There is the act and whodunit. Based upon the Shakespeare play and movies, I always thought it was Brutus, but (accordingly to Wikipedia), at least sixty senators were party to the conspiracy and act of stabbing Julius Caesar to death. They hoped to overturn his policies, but they didn’t succeed. Instead, the Roman empire imploded.

In my books, murder is never random. It ties to a social issue, conflict between people, or a means to an end. As I create the details of the murder, I embrace its importance in setting the tone and establishing the movement of the story.

The murder also is a catalyst for how the characters behave. Some hide from its brutality, others dive into the why behind the crime, and of course, the protagonist tries to find out who did the dastardly deed and what the character’s motivation was. In the moment, there are characters who go into shock at the loss, individuals who have unkind things to say about the dead body, and those who observe the details for what’s out of place and find their minds filled with questions.

Some of the reactions are genuine, some fake, but all add to the characterization and move the plot along. Reality TV works the same way. For being unscripted, it has scenes that are well thought out in advance or edited to paint individuals as heroes or villains. In Five Belles Too Many, five finalists, including protagonist Sarah Blair’s mother, Maybelle, are vying for the perfect Southern wedding. The competition is being filmed for a New York television show. While there is spontaneity, there also are many pre-planned moments.

For example, there is a sequence where a tug of war will take place in a water filled land crater or mud bowl. Rather than wearing jeans, the female characters are dressed as hoop skirted Southern belles. The director encourages them to have certain reactions when they see the mud. Their speech, mannerisms, and even how each walks is semi-scripted, but when a character goes off script, it changes the outcome of the moment. From every character’s specific reaction, we learn new things about all of them, and we have a stimulus for a plot shift.

Whether you are learning secrets from behind the scenes of a television show or how Caesar died, you as a reader are being set up for both your own mood shift and that of each character. So, now that you know the way Caesar died, how do you think Cleopatra reacted? How would you write her next chapter-the one that began the day after the Ides of March?

Thank you, Debra, for visiting today!

Now keep reading for my thoughts about Five Belles Too Many.

 

About Five Belles Too Many

Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in the Series
Setting – Alabama
Kensington Cozies (June 28, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496732235
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496732231
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09HRCV4TN

When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . .

Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than her Siamese cat RahRah. Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, have been chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality show—and guess who has to be chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers have decided to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant/bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark.

But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane—still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on, but to protect their mother and the other contestants, Sarah vows to find the true killer before someone else gets eliminated . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sarah’s mother, Maybelle is a gem handled in small doses. In this fifth installment of the Sarah Blair Mystery Series, Maybelle and her friend George will be participants in a reality television show to win the “perfect” wedding and honeymoon of their dreams. They are the eldest of the five competing couples but they still need a chaperone and Sarah has been chosen for that task. To make matters worse, the crew, the contestants, and the chaperones have been booked to stay at Jane Clark’s B&B meaning Sarah will be spending a lot of time with her nemesis.

The reality show takes a devastating turn when Jane is found kneeling next to the dead body of the show’s director, her hands covered in blood. While Sarah does not trust Jane farther than she can throw her she doesn’t believe she is a murderer. The show becomes somewhat of a free for all as the producers try to keep filming. Sarah uses that to her advantage as she tries to protect everyone and catch the real killer before someone else gets voted off the island permanently, I mean gets killed.


Again Ms. Goldstein has packed these pages with a story that grabs a hold and hangs on tight.

Her characters and their continued development is so strong. Sarah seems to be almost in constant motion except for the little bit of time she takes to give her Siamese cat RahRah and her rescue dog, Fluffy a little bit of love. Her boss, Harlan has a big legal case coming up so he needs her in the office. She wants to help out at the restaurants she owns with her sister too. But the reality show and her job of chaperoning her mother is much more time-consuming than she could even imagine and that was before the murder happened. Maybelle is high maintenance but it seems George knows how to take care of her. They do make a cute couple. I was thrilled to see Emily, Marcus, and Southwinds get the recognition they deserved and that restaurant was used much more than originally contracted. Harlan also steps in to help anywhere he can and Cliff is back as the show’s general contractor. All these characters feel so genuine and their interactions and dialogues read very true to life.

We meet several new characters in the contestants and crew of the reality show. All these new characters are cleverly crafted. Many are pretty sketchy or hiding something which is great for a reality show. Drama drives up those ratings, which is why some of the drama is totally scripted but I really loved when anyone went off-script.

The plot was very interesting and not just because of the murder mysteries. The behind-the-scenes look at a reality show was entertaining with the crazy competitions and the decisions made that weren’t usually on the up and up. The method of death was unexpected but I was surprised because I had recently seen it used on a television show. I think the author implemented it better than the tv show did because I was kept guessing right up until the very end. Ms. Goldstein did an excellent job of twisting things up so the reveal was very dramatic.

After the case was wrapped up there was a very heartwarming ending.

Every trip to Alabama to visit Sarah, her family, and her friends has been a Perfect Escape and all seem to end too soon. As soon as I turn the final page I can’t wait to return. So while I know Six _________ Too Many will probably not be released for a year, this girl can hope. Thank you, Deborah J. Goldstein. Five Belles Too Many was a delightfully entertaining story that I totally enjoyed.

To get maximum enjoyment I do recommend reading this series in order but the author has written this story to stand on its own.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Debra H. Goldstein

Many, Four Cuts Too Many, Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, and One Taste Too Many). Her novels and short stories received an IPPY award and have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters. Find out more about Debra at https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com

Author Links

Website    Blog    Facebook    Linked In

Twitter @DebraHGoldstein    GoodReads   BookBub

Purchase Links –

Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackNookB&N

Great Escapes Praise for Five Belles Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein

I enjoyed Five Belles Too Many. Sarah Blair is one of those really nice, shy people that takes a bit to warm up to you. Sarah makes an excellent sleuth as people talk to her. Ms. Goldstein has a way of sucking you into the Wheaton community.
~Baroness’ Book Trove

FIVE BELLES TOO MANY is a fun look at reality TV, Southern manners, and murder. A colorful cast of characters combined with an intricately plotted story and an ending full of surprises make for a delightful mystery.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

Full of a wide range of characters we get a mystery that will keep you guessing as they try to figure it out in time making for quite the fun read. A great choice for fans of cozies. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

I love this cozy mystery series for its genuine characters and relationships. Who wouldn’t want to be at Sarah’s side as she investigates a murder and hurdles family, friend and romantic relationship issues? Five Belles Too Many is highly recommended to both cozy mystery and reality television fans. 5 stars and a favorite!
~Diane Reviews Books

Skillful writing, great plot, and recipes too! Whether you’re a fan of reality tv or not, you will be a fan of FIVE BELLS TOO MANY
~Lisa K’s Book Review

This is, in a sense, a very cerebral series, so it’s a good read for those who like their sleuths to reason through the clues to eventually unmask the killer.
~Mysteries with Character

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 17 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW
June 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 19 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
June 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 21 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 21 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 22 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
June 22 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
June 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
June 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 25 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 26 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
June 27 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
June 28 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 28 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT
June 29 – My Journey Back – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE  
June 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GUEST POST
June 30 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT
June 30 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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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.”

 

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Flashback Friday Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge TBR Pile Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – The Rocky Road to Ruin: An Ice Cream Shop Mystery by Meri Allen #Review / #Giveaway @StMartinsPress

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 Rocky Road to Ruin: An Ice Cream Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Connecticut
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (July 27, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250267064
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250267061
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08FZ8M8X3

Justice will be swirled by amateur sleuth Riley Rhodes in the first in Meri Allen’s brand-new mystery series, The Rocky Road to Ruin!

Riley Rhodes, travel food blogger, and librarian at the CIA, makes a bittersweet return to her childhood home of Penniman, Connecticut – land of dairy farms and covered bridges – for a funeral. Despite the circumstances, Riley’s trip home is sprinkled with reunions with old friends, visits to her father’s cozy bookshop on the town green, and joyful hours behind the counter at the beloved Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop. It feels like a time to help her friend Caroline rebuild after her mother’s death, and for Riley to do a bit of her own reflecting after a botched undercover mission in Italy. After all, it’s always good to be home.

But Caroline and her brother Mike have to decide what to do with the assets they’ve inherited – the ice cream shop as well as the farm they grew up on – and they’ve never seen eye to eye. Trouble begins to swirl as Riley is spooked by reports of a stranger camping behind the farm and by the odd behavior of the shop’s mascot, Caroline’s snooty Persian, Sprinkles. When Mike turns up dead in the barn the morning after the funeral, the peace and quiet of Penniman seems upended for good. Can Riley find the killer before another body gets scooped?

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

In this first book from Meri Allen’s Ice Cream Shop Mystery Series, we meet Riley Rhodes. Riley has a cool job working as a CIA librarian using being a travel food blogger as her cover. Her last undercover mission was in Italy and it ended badly. She now has two reasons to return home to Penniman, Connecticut. She needs to regroup after what happened in Italy but also her friend Caroline’s mother has passed away. She has so many great memories of spending time with Caroline on her family’s farm and working at the Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop. She always ate her share of ice cream too.

Now she wants to help Caroline in any way she can as she and her brother Mike make plans regarding the farm’s and ice cream shop’s future. Those two rarely agree on anything so Riley is not surprised they have totally different ideas about what to do with their newly inherited assets. After a bit of a blow-up Mike takes off to a cabin on the property with his girlfriend vowing the hash things out with his sister another day.

But that day doesn’t come. Instead, the next day, Riley finds Mike’s dead body in the barn and his girlfriend is missing. Knowing the argument between the siblings is going to have Caroline on the hot seat with the police Riley delves into her own investigation. She hopes to get the scoop on the killer before someone else gets creamed.


Riley is a very likable protagonist. I love that she has a CIA connection and that she is a librarian. Librarians are so knowledgeable and know how to ask the right questions. I am sure her CIA training has built upon those skills. Skills a great amateur sleuth needs. I admire her dedication to her friend Caroline who has to deal with so much. First her mother’s passing and then her brother’s. She also has a regular job she just can’t drop to handle the farm and ice cream shop. Riley doesn’t think twice, she jumps right in and volunteers to help with no time limits.

Caroline’s mother was beloved by so many and revered for all she had accomplished. We learn this from a variety of supporting characters who work and volunteer on the farm and at Udderly Delicious. Riley’s dad and stepmom are also introduced. Her dad owns a bookstore. That is just so perfect. It is a large group but the characters are clearly defined and easy to keep straight. That being said the author has left plenty of room for growth. There are also a couple of feline characters. One who thinks her royal highness rules the roost and everything around her. The other is a little ragged but cute and is given a great name.

Ms. Allen has done a fine job of world-building. It’s almost time for the Sunflower Festival and all the fields around the farm are filled with sunflowers setting up some great photo ops. The ice cream shop even has sunflower ice cream. As the characters travel up and down Farm Lane there are two farmhouses face to face across the lane. One is the family home behind the ice cream shop where Caroline’s mother lived. The other is teamed up with a large barn where the farm manager and his family live.  Down the road, there is a cabin that was sometimes rented out called the Love Nest. Keep going and there are more sunflower fields, apple orchards, other neighbors’ homes, a cemetery, and a winery. I could picture everything so easily. I could almost taste the ice cream too.

The author has crafted a very intriguing mystery. I had a grand time following along with Riley as she split her time making ice cream and trying to put a killer on ice. She found herself in some heated and scary situations but she kept pressing on. With some marvelous twists, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story. The final twist was perfect. I was so absorbed in the story I know I missed a clue or two but at least I was in the ballpark with my guess.

The Rock Road to Ruin is a twisty mystery with a leading character that I want to know better and follow wherever she goes. The ice cream theme is just plain sweet and the sunflower backdrop at the farm has me longing for all the sunflower fields close around me that will be blooming and picture-perfect soon.

I am looking forward to reading Mint Chocolate Murder next month! Mint Chocolate Chip! YES!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

https://us.macmillan.com/author/sharirandall/

About the Author

MERI ALLEN/ SHARI RANDALL lives in a quiet corner of Connecticut, where she haunts libraries, used book stores, and vintage shops.


Coming July 26, 2022


I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of Rocky Road to Ruin!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.

Book will be sent directly from Amazon.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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something you like here and become a follower.

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

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

Contest Will End July 1, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For the 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery) by Ellen Byron #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @BerkleyMystery


Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron

About Bayou Book Thief 


Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisiana
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593437616
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FPJHVGK

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron.

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Born in New Orleans and abandoned immediately by her teenage mother Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James was adopted by the NICU nurse who took care of her. She now packs up her life in Los Angeles after her husband dies while trying to do an internet challenge and returns to New Orleans to start over.

That new start happens in a big way when she can combine her love for vintage cookbooks with her new job at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the home of the city’s legendary restaurateur, Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet. Ricki will be opening the museum’s new gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware.

After being open just a few days she discovers an employee of the museum is stealing books and they are fired for the crime.

Trying to put the matter behind her she is excited to learn she has received a steamer trunk and two oversize boxes of donated books. Worried about keeping the shop fully stocked the donation arrives at the perfect time. Ricki along with a couple of employees set out to sort through the donations before the museum opens but the trunk didn’t contain any books. Inside was the very dead body of Franklin Finbloch . . . the recently fired . . . book thief.


Being a fan of Ellen Byron’s Cajun County Mysteries I was sad to see that series end so I was ecstatic to learn of this new series again set in Louisiana.

Readers are introduced to a wonderful quirky cast of characters led by Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James who has a very interesting backstory that just starts to unfold within the pages of this story. She comes across already as a very strong protagonist with some great sleuthing skills.

We also meet several members of the staff at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum including Eugenia Charbonnet Felice who is the president of the Bon Vee Foundation Board. She oversees everything at the museum. She works hand in hand with the Executive Director, Lyla Brandt. We also meet Cookie Yanover, the Education Program Director. She and Ricki become fast friends. In fact, all of the employees for the most part get along very well and welcomed Ricki with open arms.

Away from the museum we meet Ricki’s landlord, Kitty Kat Rousseau and she is a hoot. Ricki’s AC has been out for days in the steamy New Orleans heat and Kitty is trying to get it fixed but Ricki believes something shady is going on.

Speaking of the heat, Ms. Byron’s detailed descriptions will have you sticky and sweating, wait, this takes place in the south, perspiring and glistening, and turning on your own air conditioners. She also paints a clear picture of Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware and places in and around the museum including the staff’s favorite hangout, the Bayou Backyard. It was easy to visualize every scene and this author does it without getting overly wordy.

The mystery that Ms. Byron put forth was plotted with intricate precision. It flitted in and out with varied subplots perfectly. Filled with clever twists and a red herring or two it wasn’t hard to get completely engaged by everything happening in the story. I did find it hard to truly pin down the killer. I was astonished when the guilty party started to be revealed. The ending was exciting and a bit comical as Ricki gets some awesome assistance from an unlikely duo.

Bayou Book Thief has set this series off to an excellent start. Diverse characters, a fun location, and a puzzling mystery have me declaring this book A Perfect Escape. And the cliffhanger introduced in the Epilogue has me excited and intrigued about Ricki’s future. Wined and Died in New Orleans is set to be released on February 7, 2023.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Ellen Byron

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

 

Author Links – Webpage – Facebook – Twitter – GoodReads – Instagram – BookBubNewsletter

Purchase Links

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle BooksAlibrisIndieBoundPenguinRandomHouse
Coming February 7, 2023

Also by Ellen Byron

 

Great Escapes Praise for Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron

Bayou Book Thief is finer than a frog hair split four ways with a man who is as useless as a screen door on a submarine, a bounty of books, a vile victim, a diligent detective, an artful air conditioning repairman, warm weather, and a riled Ricki.
~The Avid Reader

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries are always a delight.
~Island Confidentials

Bayou Book Thief’s mystery is well-plotted, and you will really enjoy trying to figure out whodunit. I am so excited to find out what’s next for Rikki and her new friends.
~Christy’s Cozy Corners

I really liked this story and definitely recommend it to cozy mystery lovers, those who enjoy culinary stories, and those who want to do some armchair travel to New Orleans.
~Carla Loves To Read

Bottom Line: Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron is a highly engaging read, with interesting characters and intriguing plot threads.
~Reading is my Superpower

BAYOU BOOK THIEF brings together quirky characters and an engaging mystery in a wonderful setting. Vintage cookbooks, memorable characters, and the intoxicating setting that is New Orleans make this a fantastic start to a new series. Just remember, looks can be deceiving.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series. But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.
~Rosepoint Publishing

This is an exciting new cozy mystery series that is quite entertaining. It has humor, mystery and a touch of romance all blended together for a fun-filled adventure. Bayou Book Thief is on my “best of 2022” list.
~Socrates’ Book Reviews

This makes for a fabulous story as it all plays out. Sure to be enjoyed by cozy fans especially if you want some Southern flair along with it. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 8 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
June 8 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 8 – Island Confidential – REVIEW
June 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
June 9 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 10 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
June 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
June 11 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 12 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
June 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
June 15 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 16 – The Mystery Section – RECIPE
June 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
June 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
June 17 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
June 18 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST
June 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
June 20 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
June 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 21 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 21 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

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

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery) by Amy Pershing #Review / #Giveaway – @BerkleyMystery – Great Escapes Book Tour

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

It is my pleasure to feature
Murder Is No Picnic by Amy Pershing today!


Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
by Amy Pershing

About Murder is No Picnic 

Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593199189
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593199183
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09K66BGZF

The Fourth of July is coming, and for professional food lover Samantha Barnes, it’s all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade. But mostly the picnic. What could be better than a DIY clambake followed by the best blueberry buckle in the world? Sam has finally found the perfect recipe in the kitchen of Clara Foster, famed cookbook author, and retired restaurateur, and she’s thrilled when Clara agrees to a buckle baking lesson.

But when Clara dies in a house fire blamed on carelessness in the kitchen, Sam doesn’t believe it. Unfortunately, her doubts set in motion an investigation pointing to the new owner of Clara’s legendary restaurant—and a cousin of Sam’s harbormaster boyfriend. So, in between researching the Cape’s best lobster rolls and planning her clambake, Sam needs to find Clara’s killer before the fireworks really start…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Foodie Samantha Barnes has big plans for the 4th of July. A clambake on the beach outside the home she inherited from her Aunt Ida. She just needs the perfect dessert to serve and she finds it while out for dinner at the legendary Clara’s Place. The “Best Blueberry Buckle in the World!” and the famous cookbook author Clara Foster has agreed to give a buckle baking lesson. Sam is thrilled especially when she learns the recipe’s secret ingredient.

Sam is shocked when she learns Clara has died when her house caught fire shortly after she left. She is even more appalled when the fire is blamed on Clara’s carelessness. Sam saw the way Clara worked in her well-designed kitchen. There is no way Clara caused that fire. Thankfully Sam’s doubts get the police to open an investigation but they are focused on her boyfriend Jason’s cousin who just happens to be the new owner of Clara’s Place as their prime suspect.

So while Sam is firming up plans for her clambake she needs to come up with the perfect recipe to find Clara’s killer. She knows her friends are going to help her even though Detective Vivian Peters may not like it.


I have to start with the setting for this series. Every time I open a Cape Cod Foodie Mystery I am excited to arrive at Aunt Ida’s, now Sam’s home with the spectacular views. Ida had added a little ell to the house when she could no longer keep up with the huge place. That ell is the perfect place for Sam and her dog Dioge (D-O-G) and Jason’s visiting cat as she and Jason work to renovate the big house as time and money allow. Ms. Pershing describes everything so well readers can take a literary vacay to the Cape.

She has also created a wonderful cast of characters. A group of long-time friends that come together so naturally for fun and sleuthing all while usually devouring something that made my mouth water. Their dialogues are fresh and true to life including the inner dialogues of Sam as she tries to solve the mystery. This time Jillian took the lead but everyone stepped up to do whatever they could to catch the killer. What I really enjoyed was that the tricky relationship between Sam and Detective Vivian Peters, Vivvie to her friends, is starting to blossom into a real friendship. Vivien took time to listen to Sam’s theories and her “evidence” no matter how crazy they were.  Again that big scene-stealer Dioge stole my heart. I do wish Jason hadn’t been out of town for most of the story but it added a little romantic drama to the story.

The author has blended a terrific mystery with the characters’ everyday lives that draws readers right into the story. She dishes up some well-placed twists and some nice red herrings that sure kept me guessing. My attention was glued to the pages as the killer was taken down and a favorite character was rescued. I was surprised by the way the capture played out but quickly realized it was a very satisfying way to wrap up the case. What happened after that was so nice.  When I turned the final page I had a great big smile on my face.

I am so glad one of the recipes included in the book is for the Darn Fine Blueberry Buckle. People of my generation may remember feeding their infants Gerber’s, Blueberry Buckle. I am not a blueberry fan but when my husband would feed the kids it was 1 spoonful for him then one spoonful for the child until the jar was empty. I think he is going to enjoy this adult version a lot.

Murder Is No Picnic was a grand read with characters I love to visit, delectable food, and a fun mystery to solve. This is a perfect book for the upcoming holiday when you need to escape the heat of the day or come up with a dish for your own family picnic.

I can’t wait for the next installment of this entertaining cozy culinary mystery series!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Amy Pershing

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before writing the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, including A Side of Murder — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and An Eggnog to Die For  — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” The third book in the series, Murder Is No Picnic, also received a starred review from Kirkus, which wrote: “A clever, empathetic and totally believable heroine sets this fine cozy above the competition.”

Author Links

Website: AmyPershingAuthor.com

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Purchase Links

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Great Escapes Praise for Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
by Amy Pershing

Murder Is No Picnic is a great addition to the Cape Cod Foodie series. I was entertained from page one with wonderful characters and a solid mystery. I can’t wait to continue this series and highly recommend it to cozy mystery fans—especially those who enjoy recipes and cooking tips thrown into the mix.
~Novels Alive

The author truly has some skill at describing the area allowing you to really feel like you are there. It sounds like a great place to be. Add in a murder and the story gets really good. Full of fun, intrigue, yummy food, and amazing characters we get a cozy mystery that will keep your attention to the very end. Makes for a great read. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books A Plenty Book Reviews

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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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge Purrfect Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Mystery featuring Death By Beach Read (A Lighthouse Library Mystery) by Eva Gates #Review / #Giveaway @evagatesauthor

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am excited to share my thoughts today about Death By Beach Read!


Death By Beach Read (A Lighthouse Library Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – North Carolina
Crooked Lane Books (June 7, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643859102
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643859101
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FP48MHH

Librarian Lucy’s new historic house comes with a lot of baggage and family secrets. Can she put them to rest or will a killer bring Lucy’s family to their downfall, in the 9th Lighthouse Library mystery?

It’s spring in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Lucy and Connor have moved into their new home at last, a historic cottage on the Nags Head Beach. The house needs a lot of renovations, but they worked hard over the winter to get it ready. Lucy is now happily immersed in her work at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, planning her wedding, and decorating the house. That is, until a dead body disrupts their peaceful new abode.

The first night Lucy’s alone in the house, with the company of Charles the library cat, she hears sounds. Investigating they see footsteps in the dust of the unfinished living room, and the door to the outside is open. Lucy’s reminded that the house is said to be haunted: forty years ago the teenage daughter of the owners fled in the night, and never again stepped foot inside her family home.

But the sounds have an all-too-human origin and one evening Lucy and Connor find the dead body of a man they don’t even recognize in their kitchen. They soon realize he has a long-time connection to their house. Lucy’s forced to find out what happened all those years ago and why it’s threatening her happiness today.

Meanwhile, the Classic Novel Reading Club is reading The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne, a book about another old house full of secrets. Can Lucy find parallels to her own situation in Hawthorne’s fiction before the killer strikes again?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Spring has sprung in the Outer Banks and Lucy has a lot on her plate. Working at the library, planning her wedding to Connor, and decorating the new historic home on the beach she and Connor have purchased and moved into. Connor and his dad have already done tons of work on the place. Not handy with tools whatsoever Lucy is looking forward to painting and buying furniture to make the house feel like home.

Charles the library cat now comes home with Lucy every day as Louise Jane has now been formally hired by the library and installed herself in Lucy’s Lighthouse Aerie. Connor is away at a conference so Lucy and Charles are spending their first night alone in their new home. They are awakened by sounds that have nothing to do with the wind outside or the house settling. When Lucy investigates she finds the patio door open and footprints in the sawdust.

The noises continue after Connor returns, along with some spooky shadows, and then one night they find a dead body in their kitchen. They do not recognize him at all but later find out he does have an old connection to their new home.

Before they find out who killed the man and why, Connor and Lucy find a hidden entrance to their home, some interesting things in the attic, and someone lights their brand new deck on fire.

The Classic Novels Reading Club is reading Nathanial Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. That draws some interesting visitors to the group. Also, Lucy starts to find similarities between that house full of secrets and her new cottage on the beach. Will it help her solve the case before someone else is killed?


I love this series!

This time most of the story takes place away from the wonderful and amazing Bodie Island Lighthouse Library with Lucy and Connor settling in and working on their new home but that just added to my enjoyment of this series. These characters and all of the supporting cast have grown so much over the course of this series in very natural ways that it is a pure joy to visit them wherever they are.

There have been some staff changes at the library. I think it is fun that Louise Jane is now truly working there and living in Lucy’s old space but that hasn’t tempered her love of spreading her ghostly tales any chance she gets. She does get along well with the other new hire, Denise Robarts. Surprisingly even Lucy is getting along better with Louise Jane too, at least in small doses. I did love that Lucy was very confident about her place in the scheme of things and was stronger in dealing with people who had a tendency to push her too far than she had been before. Charles, the library cat, branched out in this story too. Traveling back and forth between Lucy’s home and the library is a big step for him. Some of his actions and reactions are quite comical and I love that he plays a key role in the story.

Again Ms. Delany had put forth one heck of a mystery. Finding a body at Lucy’s new home was a great way to introduce the place to readers, especially its history and secrets it may hold. It also gave way to introduce some very interesting new characters and their ties to the community and some of its residents. A character I had thought was gone from the area for good also returns with what appears to be a clear agenda. Putting all this together you have a marvelously plotted mystery with some terrific twists. The author delivered a robust mystery that kept me guessing almost to the very end and rapidly flipping those pages.

As always the setting for this story was heavenly. How wonderful to step out your back door and be right on the beach. The window views are fantastic as well. I would call the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library my literary happy place and now Lucy and Connor’s cottage on the beach is a close second even with the renovations not being quite complete. Sitting on that deck with a book in my hand enjoying the ocean’s sounds and breezes sounds absolutely idyllic to me.

Death by Beach Read was a fun and entertaining book that took me on a great virtual vacation. I can’t wait to return to the Outer Banks hopefully in time for Lucy and Connor’s wedding and all the other happenings Ms. Delany has in store for us.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links –
Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany.com.
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor.
Twitter @vickidelany@evagatesauthor

Instagram: vickidelany

The Rest of the Series


Written as Vicki Delany



Find more books by Vicki Delaney here.

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

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

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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Contest Will End June 22, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For the 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Peril at Pennington Manor (An Avery Ayers Antique Mystery) by Tracy Gardner #Review / #Giveaway @TracyGardner_

Peril at Pennington Manor (An Avery Ayers Antique Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – New York
Crooked Lane Books (June 7, 2022) – Today!
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643859064
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643859064
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FNYW6WZ

Thanks to Aunt Midge’s unlikely friendship with Nicholas Pennington, the Duke of Valle Charme, Avery Ayers and her associates at Antiques and Artifacts Appraised head off to their most glamorous assignment yet—cataloging and appraising the contents of a castle-like mansion on the Hudson River. But regal splendor becomes a backdrop to mayhem when the precious Viktor Petrova timepiece disappears—and housekeeper Suzanne Vick plummets from a parapet to her death.

Avery, her dad William, and colleagues Micah Abbott and Sir Robert Lane soon learn that Suzanne’s predecessor also met with an untimely end. Further, the housekeeper’s suspicious demise coincides with Avery’s discovery that many of the Duke’s most priceless heirlooms have been replaced by fakes.

Detective Art Smith lends his expertise, but the suspect list encompasses the Duke’s entire retinue—including his family. Could the killer be someone intimately familiar with the Pennington estate, such as caretaker couple Ira and Lynn Hoffman, the Penningtons’ chauffeur Roderick, or even one of the heirs to the Pennington fortune?

Then the duke himself is injured in an inexplicable riding accident, and the clock swiftly ticks toward a reckoning with a cold-blooded killer. A criminal mastermind is making a desperate bid for ill-gotten riches…can Avery bring the culprit to justice before her time is up?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Is Pennington Manor cursed?

Avery Ayers is about to find out.

She is surprised to learn that Aunt Midge is old friends with Nicholas Pennington, the Duke of Valle Charme. He is planning to sell his mansion on the Hudson River and Antiques and Artifacts Appraised has been awarded the assignment of cataloging and appraising a long list of antiques and valuable artwork. When the Duke attempts to show them his prize possession, a Viktor Petrova timepiece, they discover it is missing. Before they can even attempt to find it a scream rings out. Hurrying to find the source, they find the housekeeper, Suzanne Vick has fallen from the roof to her death . . . the same way the previous housekeeper died.

After Suzanne’s death, Avery determines several of the Duke’s prized heirlooms are missing and have been replaced by inferior copies. The suspects for the missing objects and the murder have to be either part of the Pennington family or their staff, but who? Avery with the assistance again from Detective Art Smith is going to do their best to find out before the thief/killer turns the tables on them.


After reading Ruby Red Herring I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Peril at Pennington Manor and author Tracy Gardner sure didn’t disappoint!

All of the characters I loved in the first book are back and joined by Avery’s dad, William. Avery and Tillie are so happy to have their dad back but they are all still dealing with the death of their mom. For William, it is still especially hard. I loved the way the author has written these characters. William hasn’t really had a chance to mourn his wife’s passing. Tillie has some issues at school abroad and Avery truly was carrying the weight of the business on her shoulders. These characters are true to life and feel so genuine. The supporting cast is so well-crafted too.

We meet several new characters that include the Duke of Valle Charme, his family, and his staff. All developed nicely over the course of the story. Many end up on the suspect list at one time or another giving a vast number of possibilities. They all reside in the fabulous Pennington Manor when they are in the States. The Old English style mansion has its own secrets and plenty of little nooks. It also has a huge pool and circular turret staircases. Outside you will find lily ponds, a greenhouse, perfectly manicured gardens, and a large stable full of horses. A wonderful setting for a mystery or two.

Ms. Gardner has written a delightful mystery with some really nice twists and turns to create moments of misdirection. Very well-plotted, I was kept guessing right up until the very end. The reveal was very exciting with some of our favorite characters finding themselves in peril.

The author also balances out the suspenseful moments with the exact amount of humor needed. Some of it delivered by a clowder of kittens and a majestic Afghan hound named Halston.

I was happy to see that Avery was able to take part in something she had worked hard for before the story drew to a close. Tillie also has a new opportunity and that Art and Avery’s relationship is growing.

Peril at Pennington Manor is a terrific follow-up to Ruby Red Herring. I do recommend reading the books in order because reading this book first reveals something very important that would be spoiled by reading this one prior to Ruby Red Herring.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Read my review of Ruby Red Herring here

About the Author

Tracy Gardner is a Detroit native who writes mystery and romance novels. A daughter of two teachers, she has been writing since she could hold a pen. She grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries and rock and roll. When not writing, she works as a visiting nurse in a rural community, where she lives with her husband, two fun-loving teens, and a menagerie of spoiled rescue dogs and cats. She is a strong believer in the power of baked goods, live music, and girlfriend therapy as staples to a happy life.


As I type this I see the Kindle Edition of Ruby Red Herring is on sale for $1.99
Also by Tracy Gardner


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

.Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

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

Contest Will End on June 21, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For the 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Renovated to Death (A Domestic Partners in Crime Mystery) by Frank Anthony Polito #Review / #Giveaway


Renovated to Death (A Domestic Partners in Crime Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Michigan
Kensington Cozies (May 31, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496735587
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496735584
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FFX6T7J

Real-life domestic partners and stars and producers of the new hit reality home renovation show Domestic Partners, bestselling mystery author Peter “PJ” Penwell and actor JP Broadway are enjoying work and life in their sleepy Detroit suburb of Pleasant Woods—until a suspicious death makes an unscripted appearance . . .

After a successful first season of Domestic Partners chronicling the renovation of their historic Craftsman Colonial, Peter and JP are taking on a renovation of a local Tudor Revival inherited by identical twin brothers Terry and Tom Cash. But linoleum floors and a pink-tiled bathroom aren’t the only unwelcome surprises awaiting inside the house . . .

Just as the show is set to start filming, Peter and JP discover Tom Cash dead at the foot of the house’s staircase. And when the police ruling changes from accidental death to homicide, the list of suspects grows fast. Could the killer be the crabby next-door neighbor, the Realtor ex-boyfriend, the bartender’s ex-boyfriend, the other, much younger, ex-boyfriend, or even renovation-reluctant brother, Terry? And what’s that awful smell coming from the basement? Now Peter’s mystery writer skills, and JP’s experience as the former star of a cop show, will be put to the test—as will their relationship while they uncover the secrets of the house and its owners. With a killer on the loose, this is one fixer-upper that may prove deadly . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Bestselling mystery author Peter “PJ” Penwell and actor JP Broadway are real-life partners who have come together to star in and produce Domestic Partners, a hot reality home renovation show. They are getting ready for their second season and have plans to renovate another house in Pleasant Woods, Michigan. Twin brothers Terry and Tom Cash inherited the family home and have let it fall to disrepair. PJ and JP have plans to breathe some life into the home so it can be sold for a pretty penny in this elite Detroit suburb. 

Everything is in place to start filming in a few days when JP and PJ discover Tom Cash dead at the foot of the stairs of their project. The staircase is pretty rickety and that leads the police to rule the death accidental. Later when more information comes to light they declare the event a homicide. Tom ruffled plenty of feathers over the years so there are plenty of suspects including his twin brother Terry. The mystery writer skills in PJ start to kick in as do things actor JP learned playing a cop. They know the killer needs to be found quickly or their new reno project could hit the skids and more people could end up dead.


I was excited to review this book because I love that cozies are getting more diverse and this one is truly testing the waters with the cast almost entirely made up of gay men.

The author took a lot of time to introduce the characters which I really appreciate for the first book in a new series but I felt I really didn’t get to know enough. They just felt a little flat. It may be just me but I started out getting really confused between the two main characters PJ and JP. I finally got it in my head to translate the initials with the characters’ last names, Penwell – Author, Broadway – Actor.  When I did that the story flowed much better. I did like the characters and that is what kept me reading and not throwing the book at the wall. 

We did meet several other characters that were all connected to Tom and Terry. I deal with a set of twins in our family and understand it can be hard to tell them apart which is why I really focused on the differences between Tom and Terry. Who wore what hat? Who had a space between their teeth? Who was more outgoing and who was more passive? Who was enthusiastic about renovating their parent’s home and who wanted it left as is? I really tuned in to how each brother reacted to the people around them too. They may have been identical in looks but different in every other way. It made them very interesting to me and felt they were very well developed.

Mr. Polito penned a very good mystery but I think because I was ultra-focused on the twins I cataloged each clue dropped in a way that had me solving the mystery almost as soon as the death occurred. There were some great twists but they just firmed up my theories.

Something that really struck my heart was PJ and JP trying to adopt a dog. We were disappointed by the pet adoption process ourselves a few years ago and went through some of the same feelings the characters had. Things worked out for us in the long run. You will have to read the book to find out what happens with the Domestic Partners.

I really enjoyed all the descriptions of the homes in Pleasant Woods and that one was turned into a wonderful restaurant. I had hoped for more renovations in this book but the house the stars had previously renovated was mentioned a lot as to what they had done there. I am sure there will be more in the next book.

Renovated to Death lays a good foundation for this series. I am looking forward to more character development of Penwell and Broadway and them getting involved in a more complicated mystery. I am also looking forward to more about their television show including the filming and them actually doing some renovations.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Frank Anthony Polito is an award-winning author and playwright. His published novels include Band Fags (2008 “Best Fiction” – InsightOut Book Club) and Drama Queers (2009 Lambda Literary Award), and the novella “A Christmas to Remember” (the sequel to BAND FAGS!) as featured in the collection Remembering Christmas, and The Spirit of Detroit.

In April 2012, Frank published his first Young Adult novel, Lost in the 90s under his own imprint, Woodward Avenue Books.

Frank grew up in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park. He received his BFA in Theatre from Wayne State University and his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon. He resides in Pleasant Ridge, MI with his partner, Craig Bentley, and their two dogs, Jack and Clyde. He is currently writing a new cozy mystery, Rehearsed to Death, to be published by Kensington Cozies in June 2023.

Author Website

I am giving away my review copy! (ARC)

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.

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

Follow Kensington Books on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries!

Follow Kensington Publishing on Facebook for 2 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 16, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For The 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring The Diva Says Cheesecake! (A Domestic Diva Mystery) by Krista Davis #Review / #Giveaway @KensingtonBooks @KristaDavis

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am thrilled to feature The Diva Says Cheesecake! by Krista Davis today!


The Diva Says Cheesecake! (A Domestic Diva Mystery)
A Delicious Culinary Cozy Mystery with Recipes
Cozy Mystery
15th in Series
Setting – Virginia
Kensington Cozies (May 31, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496732766
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496732767
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FFXSHP4

Old Town’s midsummer festivities are getting a tasty addition this year. To coincide with a public performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Bobbie Sue Bodoin, the Queen of Cheesecake, has hired Sophie to organize a dinner with a dessert buffet on the waterfront. Bobbie Sue’s homegrown company is thriving, and since her baking dish overfloweth, she wants to reward her employees.

Bobbie Sue has only one menu demand: no cheesecake! But her specialty isn’t the only thing missing from the evening—Tate, Bobbie Sue’s husband, is too, much to her annoyance. The next morning, however, Tate’s dead body is discovered. Bobbie Sue insists she didn’t kick her spouse to the curb and begs for Sophie’s help finding the real killer. Digging in, Sophie discovers an assortment of Old Town locals who all had reason to want a piece of Tate. Can she gather together the crumbs the killer left behind in time to prevent a second helping of murder?

Includes delectable recipes and fabulous DIY decorating tips!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Midsummer in Old Town means some fun. In addition to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,”  performance this year the “Queen of Cheesecake” Bobbie Sue Bodoin is hosting a dinner for her employees down by the waterfront. She has hired Sofie to organize the affair with one strict demand – No Cheesecake on the dessert buffet!

The dinner goes off fabulously with only one hitch. Bobbie Sue’s restauranteur husband Tate failed to show up at the event. Bobbie Sue shrugs it off until about 4 A.M. when she calls Sophie for help. Tate has still not come home. Sophie grabs Nina and they meet Bobbie Sue at his restaurant. While doing a thorough search Sophie finds Tate’s body. Bobbie Sue swears she had nothing to do with the man’s death and begs Sophie to help her find the killer. Can she come up with the right recipe to catch a murderer? You’ll have to read the book to find out!


I look forward to every book in this series as soon as I finish the last one because these characters are so fantastic. They are realistic, engaging, and fun. I would definitely be friends with Sophie and Nina if I could jump into the book. Francie is a hoot and doesn’t hold back. Mars may not have been the right man for Sophie but he is a great friend. Bernie finds himself needing his friends in this story and they all really step up. Natasha is  . . . well Natasha and every good group of friends seems to have a Natasha. It is such a joy to tag along with these characters. No matter what is happening in their world they always pull together and I love that!

Catching the killer was not an easy task and Sophie doesn’t give up even after she is threatened and hurt. Ms. Davis filled this story with some wild twists and turns. All the misdirection did exactly what she planned, I was drawn completely into the story. It grabbed me so tight that was unable to put the book down which means Krista Davis is responsible for my latest book hangover finishing the book just before 3 a.m.

Ms. Davis is an amazing storyteller. Her descriptive details flow so effortlessly, easily taking her readers to Old Town Virginia, and all it has to offer. She mixes up the characters’ daily lives with a marvelous mystery throwing in an ample amount of humor and a dash of romance. She also includes mouth-watering descriptions of food and not just the cheesecake, but Oh! My! The Cheesecake!!! I cheated and purchased one for the grocery store the next day to curb the cravings caused by this book. I am sure it wasn’t as good as Bobbie Sue’s Bodoin’s but it did the trick at least until I wrote this review. I think my husband may need to make a stop on his way home. She does include 12 “delectable” recipes at the end of the book. I can already feel my waistline expanding.

The Diva Says Cheesecake is my new favorite book in this series! I LOVED IT! It is so good it deserves more than 5 stars! You will find this book on my Best Reads of 2022 and it receives my Paradise Rating!!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

 

Krista Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries, the Paws & Claws Mysteries, and the Pen & Ink Mysteries. Several of her books have been nominated for the Agatha Award. Krista lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with two cats and a brood of dogs. Her friends and family complain about being guinea pigs for her recipes, but she notices they keep coming back for more.

Author Links:
Website   Facebook   Pinterest Mystery Lovers Kitchen   Twitter  Kensington Cozies






Coming August 30, 2022


Coming September 6, 2022
I am giving away my review copy! (ARC)

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.

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

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

Contest Will End June 15, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For The 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Murder with Darjeeling Tea (A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery) by Karen Rose Smith #Review / #Giveaway @karenrosemith @KensingtonBooks

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am happy to share my thoughts today about
Murder with Darjeeling Tea! 


Murder with Darjeeling Tea (A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
‎Kensington Cozies (May 24, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496733983
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496733986
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FFXY4K7

Daisy’s Tea Garden is one of the many attractions in Pennsylvania’s Amish country—and when Daisy herself isn’t serving tea, she’s making sure justice is served . . .

When Daisy Swanson arrives at Rumple’s Statuary shopping for a birthday present for her beau Jonas, Wilhelm Rumple’s cottage looks like something out of a fairy tale, reminding her of the Storybook Tea family event she’s planning. Even the man himself—short and stumpy in overalls with bare feet—seems like a storybook character. But as a businessman, Rumple is rumored to be as cold and hard as the statues he sells.

Maybe that’s why, following a break-in at his cottage, Rumple is found dead in a dog run behind Four Paws Animal Shelter, bashed in the head. Now it’s up to Daisy to get the residents of Willow Creek to spill the tea on a little man who may have had some big secrets, so she can find a stone-cold killer . . .

Includes delicious recipes!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Daisy Swanson has arrived at Rumple’s Statuary to find the perfect birthday gift for the man in her life. Jonas loves his golden retriever Felix and Daisy thinks he would love a statue version of the canine as well. While there she finds that Wilhelm Rumple has some very unique merchandise to sell in and around his unique little cottage. Some of it is quite pricey. She also hears him have a bit of an argument with a local pet supplement company’s CEO. Daisy couldn’t hear all the details by money was definitely mentioned. She quickly finds the exact statue she wants and leaves very happy with her purchase.

A couple of days later Wilhelm Rumple is found dead behind the Four Paws Animal Shelter where he volunteers. Daisy worries because Jonas volunteers there too. Was it an isolated incident? Could the argument she overheard have escalated to murder? Are others in danger? Daisy is determined to find out who Rumple tea-d off enough to want him dead.


Family is a key theme throughout the stories in this series and in this installment we see there may be plenty of changes to shake up Daisy’s world. The characters are growing in natural ways so all the changes make sense. I really enjoy the way the author blends these regular family occurrences, both Englisch and Amish, with the mystery. Her characters are strong and well-developed and come across as caring and genuine. It is a pleasure to sneak into their world.

Wilhelm was an interesting character and cleverly written. Foster thought he looked like a troll. “A stumpy little man with unusual features.” He had brown hair that was “curly, fuzzy, and stuck out around his head”, which made his ears stick out more. Dressed in red overalls and bare feet, he was a unique man that had much more going on than met the eye. Daisy would have to dig deep to learn all his secrets.

And dig she did. She was very caught up in the mystery of his death and I had a great time trying to follow all the clues with her. This one was a real puzzle to piece together. There were several suspects and the author served up plenty of twists with all the Darjeeling tea, both hot and iced. I was still spinning my wheels when the actual killer was revealed and you could have knocked me over with a tea leaf.

Murder with Darjeeling Tea was so well-plotted and written. The characters came alive off the pages and kept me totally entertained and surprised. While the mystery was all buttoned up by the end of the story Daisy has some exciting times ahead and I truly can’t wait for my next visit to Willow Creek.

Note: Each book can be read on its own but to really get to know these characters the series is best read in order. 

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Karen Rose Smith is the author of the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mysteries and the Caprice De Luca home-staging mysteries. Married to her college sweetheart, Karen has convinced her husband that felines can make purr-fect housemates. They share their home in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania with their three rescued cats. You can find her on Facebook at KarenRoseSmithBooks and on Twitter @karenrosemith.  Find out more about her mysteries at https://www.karenrosesmithmysteries.com.



Also by this Author


Thanks to the publisher 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 Following My Facebook Fan Page.

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

Follow Kensington Books on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries!

Follow Kensington Publishing on Facebook for 2 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 8, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For The 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.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Finish The Series Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways TBR Pile Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Dead in the Water (A Mattie Winston Mystery) by Annelise Ryan #Review / #Giveaway @ryan_annelise

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.


Dead in the Water (A Mattie Winston Mystery)
Hard-Boiled Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 149670665X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496706652
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496706668
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496706669
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01GBAG70E

As a single mom and deputy coroner of Sorenson, Wisconsin, Mattie Winston is used to her life being a juggling act. But now that she’s moved in with Detective Steve Hurley and his teenaged daughter, and has started planning their wedding, her home life is looking more like a three-ring circus. At least her workload at the Medical Examiner’s office is lightened by the new hire Hal Dawson. But before Hal can even cash his first paycheck, he’s murdered on a fishing trip with his girlfriend, who’s gone missing. To keep her life from going completely under, Mattie will have to dive deep for clues. But a killer is just as determined to keep the truth from ever surfacing . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Mattie and Hurley have moved into together to raise their son, Matthew now that they have his teenage daughter Emily’s approval. A wedding will happen soon if they can squeeze it in around their hectic jobs. Mattie had thought her part-time schedule would free up some time but her new co-worker Hal Dawson was just found dead on his boat and his girlfriend is missing. On top of that her boss, Izzy is having some serious medical issues and a temporary Medical Examiner has stepped in. Mattie finds herself working closely with Hurley to find out why Hal was found Dead in the Water but the killer seems to be quite elusive and the bodies are piling up.


I do love that the series is set very close to where I actually live and that when they say someone is on their way to or from Madison or Milwaukee I can easily visualize the trip. It is fun when other landmarks are mentioned too.

I am so happy that Mattie, Hurley, Emily, and Matthew are all under one roof and they have come up with a plan to try to juggle everything in their complicated lives. They all seem really happy and I am excited about their future. I am concerned about Izzy and Dom. They are still finding their way with a new baby in the house and Izzy’s judgemental mother in the guest house. Izzy has a serious medical episode in this story and it was very scary. As you can see, I have become invested in these realistic genuine characters Ms. Ryan has created. The unique family dynamic is what really drives the books in this series.

This story grabbed me from the start. Mattie is in court testifying about a gruesome discovery she made when called to a scene for a suspicious death. Then as soon as she is done she is set to another scene for another death that has some unusual facets. Then she has to deal with Izzy which is followed quickly by the dead body found Dead in the Water. Are all or some of these cases related? That is up to Mattie and Hurley with a little assistance to figure out all while dealing with the joys of daily family life.

I really enjoyed the way the author plotted out this story. She mixes together mystery, suspense, family, and humor with such a talented hand. The story flows so well that it is almost impossible to put down due to some hair-raising twists and deadly turns. The ending just rocked me to the core. We have definitely moved from the cozy Stiff part of this series to the edgier hard-boiled Dead part of this series and I am more than fine with that.

Dead in the Water is my favorite book in this series so far. I am excited to dive into Dead Calm soon!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real-life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series, she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit www.mattiewinston.com

New Series Starting September 13, 2022

Also by this Author

Written as Allyson K. Abbott

I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of Dead in the Water.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End June 3, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For The 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.”