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

Special Guest Vanessa Westermann Author of Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery) #GuestPost / #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery)
by Vanessa Westermann

I am delighted to welcome Vanessa Westermann to Escape With Dollycas today!

On Writing Strong Heroines
Vanessa Westermann

When readers meet Charley Scott in Cover Art, she’s just taken the biggest risk of her life. On the verge of giving up on her art, she quit her marketing job to open a summer pop-up gallery in Canada’s cottage country. But when a man is found dead by chocolate, she has to uncover the killer’s identity before murder spreads its poison through the lakeside village…

My writing process has always been character-based. I’ll know who I want to write about before I know what adventures they’ll have. However, for Cover Art, my character development was more intentional than it had been before.

I started my writing career as a pantser, not a plotter, but over the years I have come to love and appreciate a good outline. In fact, because I teach creative writing, I find that, through the lesson prep and class discussions, I’m constantly learning new ways to improve my own craft.

While planning Cover Art, I tried and loved James N. Frey’s method for character development, described in his book How to Write a D*** Good Mystery. Everybody’s imagination works differently — a resource one writer finds useful may not work for another. Frey’s technique requires a fair amount of pre-writing, but his approach was a more efficient version of what I was already doing and it just clicked.

Based on the qualities of mythic heroes, Frey’s approach uses brainstorming and journaling techniques to create a hero/detective who has a ruling passion and a psychology that develops from her/his background and physiology. His method prompted me to explore my character’s backstory in much more detail than I normally would have, and still gave my imagination free rein.

I chose to make my amateur sleuth a struggling artist who is running a pop-up gallery because both art and mysteries are about perspective. To understand an artwork, you have to pull it apart and figure out how the pieces fit together to make a whole, the same way you do when solving a mystery. When we look at a painting, we’re trying to uncover the artist’s truth. When a sleuth gathers clues, she is trying to uncover the criminal’s truth. All it takes is a shift in perspective, to empathize with a murderer, to understand the motives, the mistakes, that lead someone to take another person’s life.

Charley Scott’s ruling passion is that she wants to be able to earn a living from her art. She has a keen sense of observation and is very perceptive. Her paintings look like pulp fiction covers, featuring female heroines and the everyday acts of kindness and courage that so often go unnoticed.

Charley has courage. She will act in the face of danger to bring a murderer to justice and will venture into the darkness, despite her fear of the dark. I couldn’t resist giving a character, who values her sense of sight so much, nyctophobia. Writers are cruel, aren’t they?

Like most amateur sleuths, Charley is loyal to old friends and lost causes. She’s quick to help those in need and happy to reconnect with her childhood friend, Kayla, when she joins the exhibit.

I tried to weave a sense of yearning and wish fulfillment through the story. Charley and her sister Meghan both inherited the 1950s cottage, with the gabled roof, red shutters, and lake view. But Meghan is the one who has been able to build a life in Oakcrest, as the editor of the local newspaper. Charley desperately wants to call it home, too. All of her best memories are there.

In the heart of the Kawartha countryside, the little village nestles on the shores of Blue Heron Lake, at a crossroads between barns and laneways, ploughed fields, and sugar bush. Oakcrest has the pace of a country village, but the quaint specialty shops and vibrant arts community of a city. Only a two-hour drive from Toronto, the waterfront cottages, Adirondack chairs, and boats cruising by attract weekenders to the peaceful getaway. The constant influx of visitors—arriving with the black flies and staying until the first red leaves fall from the trees—provide locals with fertile ground for gossip.

To top it off, Oakcrest has an artisan chocolate shop, run by a handsome chocolatier. Charley is a self-confessed chocoholic. She believes a car trip isn’t complete without a bag of Hershey’s Kisses, and her chocolate Labrador retriever is called Cocoa. Need I say more?

When Kayla’s husband is found dead, the result of eating boutique chocolates, the homicide investigation threatens to make Charley’s pop-up gallery a failure before it even begins.

In order to prove Kayla’s innocence and save the gallery, it’s up to Charley to see past the obvious and find the killer…

I enjoy every minute I get to spend in Charley’s company, and I hope readers will too!

Thank you Vanessa for visiting today!

Now keep reading for my thoughts about Vanessa’s book Cover Art!

About Cover Art

Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada
Cormorant Books (May 17, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 440 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770866426
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770866423
Kindle Cormorant Books (May 28, 2022)
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B1H89KC1

Charley Scott is thrilled to be running a summer pop-up gallery in cottage country. Returning to the lakeside village, not on vacation but as an artist, she’s determined to turn her hobby into a career.

But, beneath the surface of this peaceful town, darkness lurks. There’s a history.

Local chocolatier, Matt Thorn, is struggling with his father’s death and his legacy of deception. As Matt plans to expose his father’s secrets, a local is found dead, the result of eating Matt’s chocolates.

Luckily, art is all about perspective and Charley’s always had a keen eye. Can she see past the obvious and find the killer?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Charley and Meghan have inherited their grandparent’s cottage by the lake. Meghan moved in with her cop boyfriend right away but Charley took some time. Now she has made the huge decision to quit her job and try to make a career out of what she loves, being an artist. That means she and her dog Cocoa coming to the cottage and Oakcrest where she and two other artists are setting up a pop-up gallery for the summer. Her life now hinges on the success of that gallery. Can she make a living selling her unique Cover Art?

Matt Thorne has returned to Oakcrest and moved into the house his father left him. His father is still intimidating Matt from the grave, he can feel his presence in the house surrounded by all his father’s things. His father had many secrets, secrets that Matt just has to delve into and reveal along with trying to make his new chocolate business a success.

Andrew Clarkston was a domineering man in business and at home. His wife Kayla is one of the artists working with Charley but she will not be participating in it at all if he has anything to say about it.

Thomas Kelley is the third artist participating in the pop-up gallery. Now retired there is something shady in his past. He definitely has a problem with Andrew.

So when Andrew Clarkson is found dead and some of Matt’s chocolates appear to be the murder weapon almost everyone connected to Charley becomes a suspect and Alex goes into full cop mode. Charley has some unique talents that can help him but some threats lead him to tell her to back off. But that is not happening!

Ms. Westermann has introduced a strong cast of characters in the first Charley Scott mystery. They already have some depth to draw readers in but there is plenty of room for growth as the series continues. I admire Charley for chasing her dreams and giving them a chance. She also has a great bond with her sister that can flourish now that are actually spending some real time together. I did enjoy the way Charley’s relationship with Matt is in constant flux. It keeps things interesting. Alex and Meghan’s relationship has a few growing pains but they know they are strong together.

The mystery that these characters are placed in is very complex with a lot of moving parts. There are many secrets that need to be revealed and some promises that may need to be broken to find the truth. I had a few suspects on my personal list that stayed there for quite a while but all at once the actual killer rose to the top of my list and stayed there. I can’t say one clue put everything into place for me, the author plotted out the story too well for that and there was still plenty of room for more twists. The character was well-liked but he gave me a little twitch that made me know it was them.

The author’s descriptive detailed writing style lends itself well to all the facets of the story. Whether it be the artwork the artists have created, the squirrel on the top floor of the gallery, Charley and Meghan’s cottage by the lake, the chocolate shop and all its wares, or the place where the exciting ending takes place, everything is easily captured and visualized. I was very entertained throughout the whole book by everything she presented.

I did enjoy the small-town setting of the story. Not far from Ontario Oakcrest is trying to find its place as the world changes. I think the residents are all on the right track. I loved the shop names and what they had to offer. I hope to return as soon as Ms. Westermann finishes the next book in this series for another great escape.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Vanessa Westermann

An avid reader of mysteries, Vanessa Westermann is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, holds an M.A. in English Literature, as well as a Bachelor of Education, and has taught creative writing. Her debut mystery, An Excuse for Murder, was published in 2019. At the heart of all of Westermann’s stories are strong female protagonists inspired by the heroines in her own life. She currently lives in Ontario.

Social media links:

Blog   Twitter    Facebook    GoodReads     BookBub

Purchase Links –


May 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
May 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
May 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 15 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 17 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 17 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT
May 18 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST
May 19 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 21 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
May 22 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
May 23 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 25 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT  
May 25 – Drink Coffee and Read Books – REVIEW
May 26 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  
May 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes Reviews 2018 You Read How Many Books Challenge

#Review / #Giveaway – A Different Kind of Reunion (A Gilda Greco Mystery) by Joanne Guidoccio – Great Escapes Book Tour

A Different Kind of Reunion (A Gilda Greco Mystery)
by Joanne Guidoccio


About the Book

A Different Kind of Reunion (A Gilda Greco Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Ontario, Canada
The Wild Rose Press, Inc (April 23, 2018)
Paperback: 236 pages
ISBN-10: 1509220380
ISBN-13: 978-1509220380
Digital ASIN: B07BSTTNS2

While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first cooperative and willing, their camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.

Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Former teacher Gilda Greco is drawn back into the past when one of her former students dies. Was it an accident or was it murder?

Constable Leo Mulligan has persuaded Gilda to return to Parry Sound and reunite with some of her former students and participate in a séance to try to get clarity about the young woman’s death. The first séance ends abruptly and they try again and again. Each time the level of true cooperation diminishes but Gilda gets to see the truth about who her grade eight students have turned out to be.

The author took me back to junior high, you know the cliques of girls and boys, the Barbie’s, the Ken’s, the popular kids, the nerds. How much everything changes though when you are adults and out in the real world. It took me a little bit of time sort out these characters and their relationships but it became clearer the deeper I got into the story. They all felt very authentic, all dealing with different issues in their lives and trying to get to the truth of how their fellow student Sarah McHenry died.

Since my son’s death, I have thought several times about contacting a physic or a medium so I found the séance that took place within the story to be quite interesting. There are always skeptics – but when you lose a loved one and you miss them so much you are willing to try anything to reconnect with them. Especially if your loved one took their own life like my son leaving so many unanswered questions. I think that is part of the reason I was so enthralled with those parts of the story. It was also because the author wrote it so well that you feel you were right in the room watching it all take place.

The reunion to solve the mystery was a unique concept. We quickly saw the constables train of thought in bringing Gilda into the group. Sarah has reached out to her teacher in an email Gilda thought was spam and hadn’t read. If Sarah thought Gilda could help her then he knew Gilda could help him solve his case. Very much a closed room mystery we knew the people around that table were his suspects. Gilda even thought he could be involved in Sarah’s death. It was very enlightening to watch Gilda take her time meeting with each of the students trying to figure out if one of the was actually a killer.

The subject matter took me personally into this story so I think I may have “a different” point of view that most cozy mystery readers who read this story. It was very well plotted and written and had strong characters. One character really pulled at my heartstrings because in some ways he reminded me of my son. So for that, this wasn’t a “fun” or “entertaining” read for me. It was a novel that made me think. Think of so many things outside of the mystery to be solved. Circumstances hit me at a different level. I am sure more deeply than the author ever intended. I did enjoy the story but in a way I never expected.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


About the Author

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne…

Website     Twitter     Facebook     LinkedIn     Pinterest    Goodreads

Praise for A Different Kind of Reunion (A Gilda Greco Mystery)
by Joanne Guidoccio

Here’s a “different kind” of cozy mystery. With a lot of suspense and tension, a lot of memory strolls, and the addition of an intriguing paranormal element, this mystery stands out.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

This was a fun, delightful mystery and I enjoyed every minute of it.
~Moonlight Rendezvous

This had been an interesting read, while we discover Gilda’s past, we will be involved in a quite twisted mystery; lies, jealousyandsecrets…

Buy links:

Amazon (Canada)  Amazon (United States)    Kobo   Indigo   Barnes & Noble    iTunes   The Wild Rose Press

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 29 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
October 30 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
October 31 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 1 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 1 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT
November 2 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 2 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
November 2 – Rosepoint Publishing – SPOTLIGHT
November 3 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
November 3 – Varietats – REVIEW  
November 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 5 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST
November 5 – A Chick Who Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
November 6 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
November 7 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 8 – Laura’s Interests – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
November 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
November 9 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 11 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW


Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here 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 Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes Reviews 2015 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Review/Giveaway – A Season For Killing Blondes by Joanne Guidoccio – Great Escapes Book Tour

killing blondes large banner640

ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)A Season for Killing Blondes
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Ontario, Canada
Print Length: 216 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc (June 12, 2015)


Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the body of golden girl, Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside Gilda’s office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation. When three more dead blondes turn up, all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders.

Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is an exceptional debut!

Winning the lottery has changed Gilda’s life and she has helped quite a few people too. Gilda has decided to open a career counseling office to help others desiring to make a job change or find the first job in their field. A big open house is planned with a huge Italian theme, Gilda has a big Italian family. It is almost time for the doors to open when someone starts screaming  in the back alley. Everyone rushes out and sees a beautiful blonde woman lying in the dumpster and it is not hard to tell she is no longer breathing. Gilda recognizes the woman immediately. They attended high school together and she stopped to visit Gilda at the office the day before. Gilda could have been the last one to see her alive. She knows this doesn’t look good and knows she is going to have to find the real killer to save herself.

I dove right into this book and couldn’t put it down. Joanne Guidoccio tells one heck of a story. More than one blonde ends up dead and there is a surplus of suspects.

We also meet Detective Carlo Fantin, who Gilda wouldn’t mind getting to know better. Her family fully supports this and they could have a wedding planned before the killer is caught 🙂 Gilda begs them to please let them at least have a date or two first.

I love Gilda and her family. They are tightly knit and always come bearing food and advice whether needed or not. Gilda’s cousin Sofia handles the elders better than Gilda but she is learning how to handle them.

I have not read many books set in Canada. Guidoccio describes the area beautifully and Gilda’s trip to a cabin had me wishing for my own quiet place to escape to. I hope we get to visit there again soon.

This was a very quick read for me with just the right level of suspense, humor, and romance. There is also yummy Italian food and the author has included recipes!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
Guidoccio 001

About the Author

In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.

In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Social Media Links








Shop Indie Bookstores


a Rafflecopter giveaway

killing blondes large banner 312
Check out the rest of the tour!
Tour Participants

June 17 – Babs Book Bistro – Guest Post
June 18 – Tea and A Book – Interview
June 19 – Chloe Gets A Clue – Interview
June 20- Back Porchervations – Review
June 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview
June 22 – Jane Reads – Review, Guest Post
June 23 – A Blue Million Books – Interview
June 24 – Frankie Bow – Guest Post
June 25 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – Review
June 26 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – Spotlight
June 27 – Brooke Blogs – Guest Post
June 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Spotlight
June 29 – deal sharing aunt – Interview
June 30 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review

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.”