Nov 292017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am thrilled to have Vicki Delany stop by for a visit today! 

The Fun of Creating a Whole New Town

By Vicki Delany
(Post provided by Publicist)

What power we writers have. We can create whole towns, populate them with only the people we want, we can play with their minds, and think: What’s the worst thing that could happen to this person at this time.

And then do it!

Case in point: my Year Round Christmas Series from Berkley. When I was tossing around the idea of a Christmas-theme-shop book, the first thing I had to consider was if it would be a shop in a nice, typical town. Or in a town totally dedicated to Christmas.

It didn’t take long to decide on the latter, and Rudolph, New York was born. In Rudolph, they love Christmas so much they celebrate it all year round.

Now, I had my town, so I had to fill it with something.  Mrs. Claus’s Treasures sells everything you need for decorating your home, as well as toys and jewelry, and many of the goods are locally made.  Victoria’s Bake Shoppe is famous for its gingerbread.  There’s Candy Cane Sweets, the North Pole Ice Cream Parlour, The Elves Lunchbox, Cranberries Coffee Bar, Touch of Holly Restaurant, The Yuletide Inn, the Carolers Motel. The possibilities are endless.  (Looking at this list it seems as though the residents and visitors to Rudolph like to eat a lot.)

Then we need people.  Merry Wilkinson is the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures.  Merry’s father, Noel, is the town’s, Santa Claus. Merry knows her dad isn’t really Santa, but sometimes she does wonder how he knows what people want before they so much as say so.  Merry’s best friend, Vicky, owns the bakery.

The fondest wish of the residents of Rudolph is to be known officially as America’s Christmas Town. But they have tough competition from the likes of Snowflake, Arizona or North Pole, Alaska.  In the first book of the series, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, they’re delighted when a reporter from an international travel magazine arrives to do a feature he is going to title “America’s Christmas Town”.

Delight changes to something else when the reporter dies from eating a poisoned gingerbread cookie baked at Victoria’s Bake Shoppe. And rivals from a nearby town begin to whisper the worst: Christmas Town or Horrorville?

Can Merry Wilkinson and the residents of Rudolph solve the murder and save the reputation of their town as the place to find that real Christmas magic?

In the third book, Hark the Herald Angels Slay, it’s July and time for Santa’s annual vacation at the lake, and the town organizes a boat parade to greet him. But Merry Wilkinson, playing Mrs. Claus, has forgotten the basket of candy canes at the shop and hurries back to get them. Where she finds that someone has used a Christmas tree decoration with evil intent.

I’ve had great fun creating Rudolph and it’s inhabitants, and I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures.

~Vicki

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Vicki! 

 

 


Hark the Herald Angels Slay (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – New York
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (November 28, 2017)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425280829
Kindle ASIN: B06XFFNS2M

 

The town of Rudolph, New York, has the Christmas spirit all year long—but when homicide heats up a summer holiday, it’s up to shop owner Merry Wilkinson to wrap up the case.

In Rudolph, Christmas in July heralds Santa’s arrival by boat to begin his summer vacation at the lake, and Merry Wilkinson, the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, is looking forward to a busy weekend. But she’s caught off guard when her ex-fiancé, Max Folger, unexpectedly arrives with a team from a lifestyle magazine wanting to do a feature on the July festivities.

It’s clear that Max’s visit has less to do with business and more to do with winning back Merry’s heart. Merry has too much on her plate to deal with an old flame, but when Max is found strangled to death in Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, she must find out who wanted him dead—and stop a killer from ruining the summer holiday cheer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I love this series sooooo much!

This time Santa is on his summer holiday at the beach in Rudolph. It’s Christmas in July and the town celebrates it up big. A magazine has even sent a crew to cover the event, the publication Merry used to work for, meaning her ex Max Folger is in Rudolph. She quickly sees he is there to try to win her back and using the promotion of the celebration to do it. When his current fiancé arrives in Rudolph she is not happy. Her mind should be on finalizing their wedding plans not him on a date with Merry.

Merry has too much on her plate to worry about the sparing couple. Santa is due to arrive by boat soon and she is his Mrs.Claus. She never expected the scene she found back at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures after the parade. Max dead and her assistant missing. The last thing Rudolph needs is another murder! Could Jackie have killed Max and gone into hiding? Things will not be merry until the killer is caught.

Rudolph is full of Christmas spirit in December, in July, and all the other months of the year too. It is also the perfect setting for this cozy mystery series. The author takes us on a real journey around town with her words. There may not be any snow this time but the town is decked out in all it’s holiday trimmings. Just stepping into Mrs. Claus’s Treasures is so much fun. I enjoy the way Merry’s dad, Noel, rearranges the stock every time he comes into the store. I had a vivid picture in my mind as he moves the table settings from a focal point in the store to showcase more Christmas ornaments instead. Merry tries to get him to leave things alone but lets him do whatever he wants. He is Santa after all.

As you can see the setting feeds right in me telling you about these extraordinary characters. The relationship Merry has with her father is absolutely joyous, and they both know how to handle her mother. Jackie is unique in that she is so good with the customers but she has what I would call a strained relationship with her boss, Merry. Woodworker Alan Anderson is back too, working as Santa’s elf and trying to find time to actually go on a real date with Merry. All the characters we meet in Rudolph are entertaining but some are not entirely likable. The crew from the magazine brings all the drama to the story. It starts and ends with them.

I think the mystery in this story was the best one in this series. A murder and a missing person and a bunch of out of towners that had their own agendas. It was complex and Merry seemed to be drawn right into it no matter how hard she tried to leave it to the police. The pace of the story had a slow build that leads to a surprising conclusion that did make sense but the actual killer was never on my radar.

This is a fabulous series, book 1, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, was a perfect escape, and book 2, We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, made my Best Reads List in 2016, This one will find a place on my Best Rests of 2017. For maximum enjoyment, I suggest to start at the beginning, but if you are feeling ready for some warmer temps this Christmas season, escape to Christmas in July in Rudolph. It will warm you right up!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most varied and prolific crime writers. Most recently, she is the author of the Year Round Christmas cozy mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime and (writing under the pen name of Eva Gates) the Lighthouse Library mysteries also from Berkley and the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries for Crooked Lane Books. Find out more about Vicki Delany on her webpage here.

 

From Crooked Lane Books
Written as Eva Gates

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Nov 152017
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am excited to have Wendy Tyson here to visit today!
Her latest book Seeds of Revenge was released yesterday!

Escape with Dollycas

By Wendy Tyson

 

One of my earliest memories as a child involved a trip to the Pennsylvania countryside. I was about three or four years old, and my parents took me and my brother to visit friends in the mountains. We drove to their farmhouse in the evening, and when we arrived it was late. I remember a collage of sensations: cold air against my skin, an endless sky, a cozy bedroom, the soft fur of their cat, and a warm bed with a thick quilt and coverlet. I can’t tell you much else about that visit beyond how it made me feel, but for some reason the experience stayed with me.

It was only recently that I realized I’d recreated some of that feeling in our new home, a chalet in Vermont’s Green Mountains. The house is tiny by today’s standards, but cozy, and the living room looks out on a deck and the mountains beyond. We keep the house cool, but I’ve dressed the beds with heavy quilts—the weight of the blankets is somehow a comfort. At night when I walk the dogs, my senses are assaulted by the scents and sounds of the surrounding woods.

In the spring, the peeper frogs chirp in an amphibian chorus, and coyotes, owls, turkeys, and bullfrogs are often heard in the summer and fall through our open windows. Winter is dead quiet, except for the wind and occasional freezing rain/sleet pelting the metal roof—but the view of the snow carpeting the countryside? Breathtaking. The biggest delight of all may be the night sky. We’re treated to a blanket of stars on clear nights, and sometimes my family and I will spend hours outside, identifying constellations and enjoying the peace.

The house is a favorite place to write. When it’s cold outside (or buggy), I pull the table in front of the window and write on my laptop, but in the summer (once the black flies are gone), I write outside, either on the deck or at a table under a tree in the woods. I prefer a view when I write. Maybe it’s the series I’m working on, but the connection to nature helps me think.

In some way I’ve created a similar retreat with my Greenhouse mysteries—Washington Acres Farm. Megan and her grandmother Bibi—along with two dogs, two goats, a barn cat, and a brood of chickens—live in the Pennsylvania countryside, in an old farmhouse, surrounded by woods. The kitchen is an amalgamation of the kitchens I grew up in, especially those of my grandmothers. It’s not modern or flashy. The cabinets are old, built by Megan’s grandfather in his workshop. There’s no island or high-end appliances. Instead, a beat-up farm table functions as workspace and an eating area. The gas stove is old but reliable, and the double farmhouse sink is often filled with fresh vegetables from the farm waiting to be simmered or stewed or steamed.

The Washington Acres farm kitchen is a place to congregate and talk. Tough discussions are had there. And often it’s the place the pieces of a mystery come together.

Megan, a military widow and former Chicago environmental lawyer, returns to the fictional town of Winsome and her grandmother’s farm when in her early thirties, at the behest of her father, who needed Megan to stay with her grandmother. But as with many homecomings, Megan’s return to Winsome is as much a salve to her own emotional wounds as it is a help to Bibi. Megan finds healing in that kitchen, in the drafty bedrooms, within the walls of the old barn, and along the forest trails.

My mother and I discussed my early childhood memory recently. She was surprised the trip made such an impression. We only stayed at the farmhouse for one night, and by the time we arrived it was late, so she and my father put my baby brother and me to bed. It was cold outside, she said, and the house was drafty and large. She didn’t recall a cat. I slept in a room with a handmade quilt, and the next morning we had pancakes in the big working kitchen.

“You may be transferring some of your experiences from your grandmothers’ houses onto that trip,” my mom suggested. “You always like to spend time with your grandparents.”

Maybe she’s right. Maybe it was the elusive nature of such an early memory that had an indelible effect on me. Or maybe it was reinforced by the trips I would take later in life. Regardless of the why, now that I’m older and have lost so many people who were dear to me, I’m grateful I could recreate that sense of cozy in my Vermont home, and equally grateful to spend time in Washington Acres with Megan and Bibi.

I hope readers enjoy it there, too.

~Wendy

Thanks for visiting Wendy, I love this post! 

Now let me tell you what I think of her new book. It is a Fantastic Escape!


Seeds of Revenge (A Greenhouse Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Henery Press (November 14, 2017)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635112757
Kindle ASIN: B07519T827

 

 

 

It’s time to cuddle up with a holiday whodunit. Smell the crisp pines and baking cranberries as you sip your hot apple cider. It may be the season, but the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly.

Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. So much so that she braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs.

And then she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road.

But this woman is no stranger to Winsome. It’s Becca Fox. A love chemist (you read that right). She’s headed to her aunt’s house to sell her love potions at holiday events.

Or so Becca thinks.

Her sneaky aunt only invited Becca home to reunite her with her estranged father. It sounds noble and kind-hearted, until the man ends up dead.

Megan soon finds herself in the middle. She realizes Becca’s not the only one getting iced over. Megan’s own aunt, the famous mystery author, is dragged into the drama. Her novels implicate her and she’s in trouble.

Now it’s personal. Our Megan must follow a cryptic trail of literary clues, all while sifting through the victim’s sordid past. She gets closer to the truth as the murderer gets closer to her.

How’s that for a ho ho ho? Don’t let your fresh apple crisp burn in the oven because you’re lost in this holiday homicide.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The “seeds of revenge” are planted deep within this mystery. Megan Sawyer, being the good person she is rescues a stranded motorist in the middle of a blizzard. She delivers Becca Fox right to her aunt’s door. Becca plans to sell her “love potions” at her aunt’s nursery over the holidays. Things are frosty upon her arrival as she meets her father, the man she holds responsible for her mother’s death, on her aunt’s front porch. Becca is upset about the collusion between the two. Megan finds herself in icy straights when the man is found dead. Not only is Becca a suspect but in a remarkable twist so is her own aunt, the famous mystery author. Megan has no choice but the dig in to the investigation putting herself on the killer’s hit list. It doesn’t matter if she has been naughty or nice, this could be her last Christmas in Winsome.

I have heard of love potions including the famous Love Potion #9, but I had never heard of a Love Chemist. Becca Fox has an interesting little business but she has hasn’t had it easy since her mother died. She believes her father killed her mother and she has not had anything to do with him since. She has a brother but he does not hold the same beliefs about their father. Megan is drawn to her and so was I. Becca is a complicated character and Ms. Tyson has really brought her to life in this story.

Bibi, Megan’s grandmother, reminds me so much of my own grandmother and mother. A hard working woman determined to get to the truth no matter what. She is also one to not hold her tongue. She will tell you her opinions and thoughts on virtually any subject as woman of that generation tends to do. She warms my heart.

I also love Scottish vet, Daniel “Denver” Finn and the direction of his relationship with Megan. It is fun to see this relationship grow.

The pacing of this book is different. I felt the story was unfolding at a comfortable pace, the clues were being uncovered and I was right there with Megan the entire way, engaged and captivated. The ending was a total surprise. Then I looked up and realized I had read the entire book in one sitting and faster than I had read a book in a very long time. Truly is was a fast pace story but not once did anything feel rushed or glossed over. The author delivered a truly fantastic read.  I never once looked for a stopping place or even thought about putting the book down.

The characters are well defined and the mystery was exceptional. A cozy mystery with a bit of an edge and I loved it!! It was a trip to Paradise, a chilly escape in the winter but Paradise nonetheless.

You will want to start this series from the beginning and get to know the characters from the start. I am anxiously awaiting and excited for my next trip to Winsome.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

wendy

About The Author

Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy’s latest novel, DYING BRAND, the third Allison Campbell mystery, was released in May 2015. The first Campbell novel, KILLER IMAGE, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of The Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first, A MUDDIED MURDER, was released last year, Bitter Harvest was released today. Wendy and her husband are passionate organic gardeners. They live with their three boys and three dogs on a micro-farm just outside of Philadelphia.

 

Author Links

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Twitter: @WendyTyson    Pinterest: Greenhouse Mystery Series


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Oct 122017
 


Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2017)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738753348
E-Book ASIN: B01N7UGNZB

Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.

She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This time Chloe Ellefson takes us along on a trip to Mineral Point as she goes there to help out for a week. Roelke drives her there and plans to spend the weekend helping a friend update a family home. Chloe is hoping for a quiet week away from the drama brought on by her boss at Old World Wisconsin but when Roelke uncovers human bones in the root cellar Chloe knows her week in going to be far from quiet. She agrees to do some research to try to determine who the remains belong to and who buried them. This is all before she sets foot in Pendarvis, the historic location of her temporary assignment. A recent newspaper article has the employees there up in arms and Chloe finds herself the person to blame for a state funding problem. She also find another body.

I have lived in Wisconsin my whole life but I always learn something new when reading a Kathleen Ernst mystery. Pendarvis is one of 12 historic sites owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. “Tucked away in historic Mineral Point, Pendarvis celebrates the restoration and preservation efforts of Robert Neal and Edgar Hellum, who saved a significant part of Wisconsin’s past.”* Sadly, I have never visited there, but using the author’s descriptions I feel like I have. With all the main buildings, land and nearby cottages it makes a wonderful setting for a murder mystery or two. Roelke back in Eagle has a mystery to solve as well.

The  brilliance of this book is the way the author blends history with life in Wisconsin in the 1980’s. We get the story of a Cornish family coming to America and then to Wisconsin in search of a life provided by the mines. Pendarvis recreates and celebrates this time in history but has problems of the current day which for this series is the 1980’s.

Both time periods have very strong females. The woman in the story that immigrated in the 19th century had  to be strong to live among the men working the mines, she even worked at the mines herself before she came to America. She was a trailblazer is protecting children at a time when most were forced to work in the mines. Chloe is the strong woman of current time. She searches for the truth and doesn’t give up even when she is putting herself in danger. She has a resilience that I truly admire.

Many issues are faced within the story, an abusive husband, drug dealers, financial worries, and of course, murder. It is also a story with a nice romance. Chloe and Roelke relationship has grown at a very comfortable place over this series. Set before cell phones, I really enjoy their nightly calls to check-in with each other when they are apart. The way they work together is heartwarming.

Kathleen Ernst is a real treasure. She researches these stories intensely and creates fictional drama based on facts that keep the reader fascinated from the first page to the last. She is an excellent storyteller whose words come alive. Her love of Wisconsin history shines brightly in this and all of her books in this series.  The characters are believable with great dialogues.  The setting always plays a key part and she always leaves me wanting to visit the location as soon as possible.

Each of the books in this series can be read all on their own, but to enjoy the character development you really should read them all. Mining for Justice has become my favorite book in this series and will be included in my Bests Reads of 2017.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

*Quote from the Pendarvis website.



About The Author

Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.

Webpage Facebook – Blog 

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Praise For Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
by Kathleen Ernst

Have no fear as this author weaves a masterful tale. She never drops the ball. Being in Wisconsin I am naturally drawn to the series but anyone who appreciates history and a well written mystery will not want to miss Kathleen’s books.
~Laura’s Interests

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I love that the author mixes history in her mysteries and that you can learn while reading a fun book.
~A. Holland Reads

Wow, this book grabbed my historian heart and held my sleuthing mind to the last page.
~Bibliophile Reviews

Mining for Justice is an outstanding story in an equally outstanding series, one that has quickly become a favorite of mine.
~The Power of Words

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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.”

Sep 152017
 


Hair Brained (The Bad Hair Day Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
14th in Series
Setting – Florida
Orange Grove Press (September 12, 2017)
Paperback: 278 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0997003888

E-Book ASIN: B072XVHPPH

 

 

Was the car crash an accident or a deliberate attempt to run Marla’s friends off the road?

When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally–or Ken in the car with her–out of the way? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Nonetheless, it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else ends up as roadkill?

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

Talk about a whirlwind of emotions, I had to get a box of Kleenex for this amazing cozy story. I read this story while Hurricane Irma was hitting Florida too. I am keeping everyone affected  by the storms in my prayers.

The story begins with Dalton and Marla learning that their friends Tally and Ken are missing when they receive a call from the babysitter. They quickly go to pick up the baby and Dalton reports the parents as missing. Then Marla receives a call from the hospital. Ken and Tally were in a car accident. Marla takes over care off their young son, Luke, and Dalton determines the crash may have been intentional. Marla starts to help Dalton with the investigation and finds she may not have know her BFF as well as she thought. But Tally legally designated Marla as the baby’s guardian if anything should happen to her so while not wanting a child of her own she will do anything to keep that little boy safe until his mom comes home.

Back in 2001 I was in an automobile accident so similar to the one in this story, but I was by myself. Like Tally my injuries keep me in the hospital, unconscious or sedated for a long time. It was so easy to visualize Tally in that hospital bed with Marla reading and talking to her. Letting her know her son was o.k. It mirrors exactly what happened to me. Tally has been a key character in this series and her being hurt in a situation like mine really rocked my emotions.

The way Marla took on not only the care of Tally’s child but trying to handle both Ken and Tally’s businesses as well as her own, and helped with the investigation also tugged at my heart.  Her entire family stepped to help and it gave a little picture of what life would be like if she did decide to have a child of her own.

All of this would have made great women’s fiction but it’s a mystery and the author has plotted out a great one. There are suspects galore and motive for days. It is all about clipping all the clues together while trying not to tip the wrong person off. Cohen has written a very complex mystery that could have ended up several ways. I had a lot of fun following along trying to solve it myself but another murder late in the story really turned the whole thing on its ear for me.  There were so many unexpected twists and the final one was excellent.

This is the 14th book in this series. It is the absolute best one so far, and they are all pretty darn good. It is fresh, believable and timely. I enjoyed going beyond the hair salon and seeing Marl’s evolution over the story. Nancy J. Cohen has brought together family and friendship and paired it with murder, insurance fraud, and false identities.  I stayed up late, well early into the morning, to finish this one. This book is a must read for cozy lovers whether you are already a fan of this series or not. The book can stand on its own, you can catch up on previous titles later 🙂

I have read so many top notch books the past couple of weeks and Hair Brained will be joining them on my Best Reads list for 2017! I am beyond excited for the next installment in this series!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


About The Author

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list and been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

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September 16 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 17 – A Holland Reads –  GUEST POST
September 18 – Deal Sharing Aunt –  INTERVIEW
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September 19 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW
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Sep 142017
 

Protocol (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery)
Medical Thriller/Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Midwest U.S.
Henery Press (September 5, 2017)
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635112399
E-Book ASIN: B072JZK43D

 

 

Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is one of those stories that sucks you right in and holds on tight.

Maggie O’Malley has landed a dream job as a pharmaceutical researcher. She wants to save lives and work on a team that could cure cancer or any of the other diseases the world faces. Her first day starts off well until she receives an alert on her cell phone about a meeting she didn’t set up with a person she doesn’t know. She later learns the person was killed at the time she was supposed to meet them. The alerts keep coming and people keep dying. The friend who gave her the phone tries to help her find out why she is receiving the messages but what they find puts them both in danger.

As if Big Pharma isn’t scary enough this book turns it inside out. Full of twists and turns our protagonist, Maggie O’Malley, has no idea who she can trust. Excited about her job and the fine salary she is thrilled to be able to subsidize her father’s business keeping him from filing bankruptcy. When the messages keep coming and her job starts to fall apart her close friend, Constantine tries to help. Neither one knew the enormity of the situation.  We also see that Gus (Constantine) has feelings for Maggie that are more than just friendship. If they live to the end of this maybe he will share those feelings.

The plot is full of drama and suspense. As the book continues we see the PROTOCOL appears to be murder but how is it connected to Maggie and her job at Rxcellance. The pages keep flying at an extreme pace to an ending that totally caught me by off-guard, surprised, and chilled to the bone.

I read this book all in one sitting. It was absolutely impossible to put down. It will be a long time before I will look at a cell phone alert and not think of this about this story.

Kathleen Valenti has written an excellent suspense novel combining greed and medicine and the lengths people will go to for that almighty dollar.  I am shocked this is her debut effort in the mystery realm. She hit it out of the park!

Just one question Ms. Valenti, where in the Midwest is Rxcellance? Hopefully not in my home state of Wisconsin……

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


About the Author

When Kathleen Valenti isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. Protocol is her debut novel and the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. Kathleen lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running.

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Praise for Protocol (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery)
by Kathleen Valenti

The plot was intriguing and twisty turny …You’ll be on the edge of your seat while your wondering who is behind all the mayhem.
~My Reading Journeys

Protocol by Kathleen Valenti will keep your pulse racing and keep you on the edge of your seat.
~Reading is my SuperPower

Protocol by Kathleen Valenti is definitely not a cozy, but a gripping medical thriller and suspense/thriller. Protocol is a fast-moving page-turner, with a complex, intriguing, and exciting plot.
~Jane Reads

 

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Sep 082017
 


Death Distilled: A Whisky Business Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Scotland
Alibi (September 5, 2017)
Print Length 240 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01N6FSSUX

Photojournalist by trade, distillery owner by blood, and amateur sleuth by necessity, Abigail Logan learns that murder can’t stay bottled up forever in this charming Whisky Business Mystery.

It’s been three months since Abi Logan last checked in on Abbey Glen, the celebrated whisky distillery she inherited. With her oversize wheaten terrier, Liam, by her side, Abi returns to the quaint Scottish village of Balfour. But her relaxing Highland homecoming takes a stressful turn when she unearths an unseemly bit of village history, welcomes a group of Japanese whisky enthusiasts, and becomes shepherdess to an unexpected flock of sheep—all within the first twenty-four hours. Still, nothing’s more stressful than murder. . . .

Local celebrity Rory Hendricks is the hotheaded, hard-rocking former frontman of the Rebels—and Abi’s girlhood crush. After meeting him in person, Abi can’t say no to anything he asks, like photographing his upcoming show . . . or figuring out who’s trying to kill him. Turns out someone’s been bumping off his old bandmates, with the drummer dead under mysterious circumstances and the keyboardist in a coma following a hit-and-run. Now a series of threatening messages leads Rory to think he’s next on the chopping block. And the band has a devil’s share of broken hearts and bitter disputes in their past, leaving Abi a huge batch of suspects to sift through—all before the killer takes another shot.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The first book in this series, Single Malt Murder, had already made my list of Best Reads 2017 so I have been anxiously waiting this one. At the end of the first story Abi took off on another photo assignment, this one picks up with her returning to Abbey Glen with her lovable canine companion, Liam. She isn’t back for long when Liam makes a grim discovery, Patrick sets up an event at the Glen without receiving permission from her or her manager Grant, and she finds herself caretaker of a flock of sheep. Plus when she left her romantic relationship with Grant was up in the air and now she has met her teenage crush, rocker Rory Hendricks, so who knows what that means for the two of them. She then learns that the members of his old group the Rebels have been targeted and one killed and he wants her help before he is next. Grant is not pleased when she agrees to follow him to a concert that could be putting them both in danger. Abi has her hands full in this story, definitely not the relaxing homecoming she expected.

Abi Logan is a strong woman. Her career as a photojournalist has taken her to some dark and dangerous places. She jumps right in to help her new “friend” Rory Hendricks knowing the dire circumstances that could arise. But she doesn’t trust her heart, every time she and Grant start to get close she runs away. Abi is a complex character and a great protagonist.

I liked her friend Patrick a lot in the first story but not so much this time. For me, he overstepped his bounds by involving Abi, Grant, and Abbey Glen in his latest scheme to better himself. He really was taking advantage of his friendship with Abi.

Grant stole my heart in the first book and my love for him is still strong. I feel bad that Abi can’t give him what he wants. He remains at Abbey Glen, doing his job and making the distillery thrive. I hope with time Abi will return his love without fear of messing up both their lives.

I absolutely love the setting for this series. The Scottish Village of Balfour is rich in history and that history is part of this story. The village, distillery and the home she inherited are so wonderfully described. I could even visualize the sheep in their new pen. I enjoyed how quickly Liam became a canine shepherd.

The plot to the mystery was again complex, lots of moving parts and pieces. Many suspects but their motives were a bit murky. The way an old mystery was blended with the new gave the story a depth I wasn’t expecting. As more clues drop into place the suspense starts to build. I had my “aha moment” right along with the characters as they climax was playing right out for me to read. I was totally surprised.

Ms. Mullet packs so much into 240 pages. Murder, dysfunctional families, romance, a rock concert, drama, suspense, whisky, Japanese businessmen, and even a flock of sheep. This book will join the first as one of my Best Reads this year. I can’t wait for book #3.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links – Webpage – Facebook – Twitter 

 

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Melinda Mullet’s delightful Whisky Business mysteries can be read together or separately. Enjoy responsibly:
SINGLE MALT MURDER | DEATH DISTILLED

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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.”

Aug 312017
 

Assaulted Caramel (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Setting – Ohio
Kensington (August 29, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496706393
Kindle ASIN: B01MQSAI6E

 

 

Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime . . .

Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble . . .

Recipe Included!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Wow! What a fantastic start for this series!

Bailey King is up for a huge promotion at JP Chocolates in New York City, but she receives a call that her grandfather is very ill in Harvest, Ohio. Her grandparents are the ones that introduced her to everything chocolate at their Amish candy shop, Swissmen Sweets. Hoping it will be a quick trip she rushes to be with them. Her grandfather pushes away any concern but she can see he is failing.

Adjusting to their Amish ways she has to charge her cell phone in the shop kitchen as their are no outlets in their living quarters above the shop. When she sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to retrieve it she almost trips over the dead body of an Englisch developer, a man with a grand scheme to buy all the shops in Harvest. There should be plenty of suspects but the police have decided that Bailey’s grandfather is their prime suspect. His shop – his knife – case closed – almost. A very handsome deputy has a special relationship with the King’s. Bailey doesn’t know what it is but she knows she isn’t going to take her sweet time jumping into his case. Her grandfather is innocent and she is going to prove it or fudge things up royally 🙂

I loved this story. The characters are very believable and very engaging.  Maami, Clara King and Daadi, Jebediah King are such wonderful people with huge hearts. Even with his heart condition, Jebediah puts the needs of others first and never loses his strong work ethic. Clara, a strong woman in her own right is the perfect helpmate. While Bailey is not Amish, she clearly has the same values as her grandparents. Their close bond remains even though she has been away in New York.

The story moves right along not only trying to catch a killer but following the King’s as they deal with not being able to use their kitchen. Commitments have been made and must be fulfilled. Bailey takes on providing the desserts for a wedding she is surprised is still taking place. With this event we meet more characters, Amish and Englisch, from the bridal couple and the bride’s mother to the ladies of the church plus a cute little kitten and a potbellied pig too.

The mystery was a twisty one. I thought I had it figured out but at the big reveal I was completely surprised. They may not have chocolate covered red herrings in the candy shop but this story is full of those buggers.

Amanda Flower and her unique writing style has given her readers a terrific story to savor. She has blended captivating characters, a marvelous mystery, a charming town, and scrumptious chocolate in a way that is sure to please every cozy reader!

Pure bliss – this book plus anything chocolate!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Amanda Flower, a two-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling  author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

Lethal Licorice (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery) will be released February 27, 2018.




Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series (writing as Isabella Alan)

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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.”

Aug 242017
 

Deadly Choices
by Karen Randau

Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Setting – Arizona
Suspense Thriller
3rd in Series
Short on Time Books (July 17, 2017)
Kindle – ASIN: B074187YT7

 

An elderly woman with an arrow in her chest. A murdered journalist. A decades-old cover-up. In Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries Volume 3), Rita and Cliff Avery team up again to solve a spate of murders in their picturesque Arizona mountain town of Rim Vista. Rita’s mother Willow delivers gun-wrenching news while falling for the man who could be responsible for four deaths. And Rita must escape a string of life-threatening predicaments thrown at her by an assailant willing to do anything to scare Cliff off the case.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Karen Rabdau is a new author to me but with stories like this one we are going to become fast friends. I was skeptical about jumping into this series with book three but by the end of the first chapter I was totally tuned in and reading at a rapid pace. The mentions of things that happened in previous books only made me realize that I needed to add both books to my wish list right away.

Deadly Choices starts out with Rita and Cliff camping with her mother, Willow, a woman Rita has not seen for 25 years, when they hear a shot and soon after a woman they had met earlier stumbles into their campsite with an arrow in her chest. She was teaching a student and he is missing. Had he been shot? Rita and her detective husband Cliff are quickly brought into the case. As more deaths occur, a man they have known for years becomes a prime suspect. As they investigate surprising things are uncovered tying back into the past.

This story is a wild adventure for Cliff and Rita. There were so many edge of the seat moments I lost count. Explosions, kidnapping, and twists and turns galore.

Ms. Randau is a wonderful storyteller. She packs as much punch into these pages as humanly possible and makes it impossible to put this book down. I love the way she describes a scene. I felt like I was right there whether it be a dangerous situation or if she was just describing the beauty of Rim County.  The dialogue was on point and I was totally invested in these characters. The plot was complex and so well written.

Drama, danger, mystery and suspense with well crafted characters, this story has them all. I am excited for the next adventure.

The story deserves more than 5 stars! Paradise Rating.

 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About the Author

Karen Randau is the author of the Rim Country Mystery series. Her fast-paced novels include Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, and Deadly Choices, each with intricate plots and lots of action and told from the point of view of protagonist Rita Avery.

 

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Jul 192017
 


Kate Parker is touring with Great Escapes right now and is visiting several blogs with guest posts. Check out the schedule below my review to visit them.

The Detecting Duchess (Victorian Bookshop Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – London, England
JDP Press (May 18, 2017)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0996483162
E-Book ASIN: B071J129MG

 

 

The only thing standing between Georgia and her fairy-tale wedding is a murder. Or two.

When a young woman pleads for help from Georgia Fenchurch in locating a missing Crown investigator, Georgia resists. Her wedding is only a week away. Before she can say no, she’s knocked to the ground by an assailant attempting to kill the young woman.

Georgia now feels she must help. She soon finds herself up to her wedding veil in stolen treasure and coded letters. With the Duke of Blackford’s help, Georgia follows a trail of missing men and dead bodies. Every victim had one thing in common – a desire to possess a fortune in gold.

In between the society balls and social calls of late Victorian London, Georgia works on her last case before the big day. Will she stop a ruthless killer in time? Or will Georgia find getting to the altar on time is going to be murder?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

When I reviewed The Conspiring Woman at the end of 2015 I thought that was the final book in this fantastic series but author Kate Parker wasn’t quite done with these characters. As a reader I was thrilled to receive this book and visit these characters one last time.

Georgia Fenchurch should be concentrating on her wedding plans as it is just 8 days away but when a young woman is attacked right before her eyes she can’t say no to one last investigation before she says “I Do”.

Her friends are not happy but her groom, the Duke of Blackford, offers his assistance in hopes to wrap the investigation as quickly as possible. Instead people go missing and more bodies pile up.  A missing treasure trove of gold seems to be what all the victims have in common. Can Georgia stay safe and find the killer and gold and still make it to the church on time??

As expected the author has given us quite an intriguing mystery. It starts in Egypt with a trunk that was supposed to be filled with gold coins, payment owed by Egyptian government to various European banks, turns out to be filled with nails. The gold had been stolen, Eugenie Munroe’s uncle has been killed, the man she traveled to London with, Mr. Burke, has gone missing, and another man has been murdered. Eugenie wants the man who killed her uncle brought to justice and it seems all the suspects have left Egypt for the cooler Summer of England. So Georgia and The Archivist Society are on the case.

Ms. Parker takes us back in time as only she can. Her words paint wonderful pictures in your mind of Victorian England as we follow Georgia as she goes to society balls and social calls and investigates. I totally escaped into this one. I felt like I was on Georgia’s shoulder from the first page to the last.

In addition to the characters we have come to love from the previous stories we are introduced a whole new contingent that arrives from Egypt, all the suspects. Some are eliminated because they are killed and Georgia is warned to stop asking questions. She doesn’t give up and as the story continues the tension ramps up to a scary and surprising conclusion.

Do Georgia and Blackford tie the knot?? You are going to have to read the story yourself to find out.

I have loved every book in this series.  I recommend reading this series in order to follow the progression but they each can be read on their own. Kudos Kate, this is my favorite book in the series!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Kate began reading Agatha Christie mysteries and the Nancy Drew books while her classmates were reading Dick and Jane. She particularly likes historical mysteries and the feeling of time travel a good historical book can give the reader. Combined with her love of late Victorian to World War II architecture and fashions, she found an outlet for the stories and characters that fill her head by writing The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and The Deadly series, as well as taking part in the Christmas Revels anthologies.

 

Author Links:

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Also by Kate Parker


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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.”

Jun 092017
 

No Turning Back: A Novel
Women Sleuths/Suspense Thriller
Setting – United Kingdom
Crooked Lane Books (June 13, 2017)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683311638
E-Book ASIN: B01N4FP1AR

 
 
 
 
 

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Can you say TWISTS? – This book is full of them.

Anna Graves’s finishes up her 8 month maternity leave to return to work as a radio talk show host. Separated from her husband she is trying to find the balance between work and home. While taking her daughter for a walk on the beach a young man attacks her with a knife. She does everything she can to protect her child and herself, fatally injuring her assailant. She is cleared by the police, it was clearly self defense. Until the autopsy shows there is more to the story. They bring her back in for more questions. The press hounds her everywhere she goes. She is forced to take another leave from work. Then she receives a terrifying email from the “Ophelia Killer”.  A serial killer that has been heard from for 20 years…since her father took his own life. Hang on tight this is just the start of the story…

The story is told alternatively between Anna and the killer making for a spine chilling read. When Anna receives emails from the killer she tries to stave off another killing but she ends up finding the body which makes her even more of a suspect. The police were mind blowing in the way they twisted logic to focus more on her and disregard any thing she tried to tell them. She puts herself at risk from the first page to almost the very last.

The characters in this story are very unique. Anna and her grandmother are close because her mother had an emotional breakdown after her father’s suicide.  Her brother is strange in his behavior and manner. He and Anna are not close. We see the darker side of the area, the docks, and those who live in the area. The young man who attacked Anna lived there. Anna’s work at the radio station brings in some notable characters too.

The plot was very complex and full of red herrings. Each chapter seemed to have a new twist pointing at another person who could be the killer. It was impossible to put this book down. I stayed up late trying finish but my body shut me down at about 70%. I couldn’t wait to get back to it and rushed to it as soon as the work day was done. At the end I just said WOW! This book took my breathe away.

The only thing in the story that gave me pause was the implement Anna used to defend herself and kill the teenager. The story calls it a comb. I went to a British dictionary to see if it was different from what we Americans call a comb. I didn’t find any difference but I am thinking it was the type of comb used to hold hair in place not one used to get out snarls. I think had it been made of metal those tines could be quite sharp.

This book marks the author’s US debut and is an author to watch. No Turning Back is a compelling psychological thriller and I give it more than 5 stars! My Paradise Rating! It kept me up the first night reading it and the second night thinking about the story I read.

Dollycas

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About The Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

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Webpage – Twitter – Facebook –  GoodReads 

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

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