Posted in Reviews 2012

Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon

Deadly Patterns:
A Magical Dressmaking Mystery (A Dressmaker’s Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (October 2, 2012)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451238245

Deadly Patterns

Bliss, Texas is getting ready for the annual Winter Wonderland Festival. Harlow Jane Cassidy has designed a holiday fashion show that will take place in the town’s most prominent mansion. But the weather and the not yet completed restoration of the mansion has Harlow  “on pins and needles” while everything comes together. It seems her workload keeps increasing as the event draws near. Where is that darn Lee Chrisson anyway? She needs to get that Santa suit altered.

Sadly Lee Chrisson has met with foul play and will not be Santa in Bliss this year. Discovering the body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. Someone has jumped to the top of the naughty list and Harlow will need the help of family and friends “if she has a ghost of a chance” of catching the killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A trip to Buttons and Bows just warms my heart. Growing up in a family of seamstresses like Harlow these stories always bring back memories. When Harlow fears she is losing her magical charm because she can’t envision the perfect outfit for Josie it almost broke my heart. My grandma was a lot like Harlow, she always made the perfect wedding dress or business suit for her clients making them feel beautiful or empowered. I think that’s why I love MeeMaw so much. Her ghostly hi-jinks remind me so much of my grandma. I may have to check out my family tree, maybe we are related to Butch Cassidy 🙂

Melissa Bourbon brings together wonderful characters, a little history, a bit of romance and a fun mystery perfect for this holiday season. Curl up with these charming ladies and the rest of Bliss, Texas. A perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About This Author

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing (Bare-Naked Lola (A Lola Cruz Mystery)is available now), The Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox with Tonya Kappes, and has two romantic suspense novels to be released in 2012.

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 Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2012

Cozy Wednesday with Author Liz Lipperman (Giveaway too!)

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am so thrilled to have this guest return to Escape With Dollycas.  We learned in her previous guest post she had a little trouble at first defining her writing genre but she sure has that down pat now. She also has ventured into the thriller category with Mortal Deception and will soon be adding a paranormal series. She is one busy lady and I am so happy she could take time today to drop by and visit. She needs our opinion on a very important issue. I know you will all take some time to help her out. Please help me welcome Liz Lipperman.

Hi Liz!

Hi Everyone!

First of all, it’s a pleasure to be back with Dollycas and all you readers. I decided to go right to the horse’s mouth (I can see my editor cringing at that cliché!) A while back I posed a question on Mysteries and Margaritas where I blog with four other authors, and I got the writer’s perspective. Now I’d like to find out what you voracious readers like to see when you open up a book.

In case you don’t know, I sold book 4 in my mystery series with a title and a one line blurb. Here’s the blurb for CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER.

When an international playboy ends up dead at the International Italian Festival, and Alex’s sister is accused of the murder, Jordan and the motley crew of neighbors hatch a plan that leads to the Godfather himself knocking at her door.

Okay, that’s what I had to work with. Knowing where to begin has always been a problem for me. In the past, I’ve struggled with wanting to put in too much back story too soon, but I think I have finally killed that demon. I write mysteries, so I know the first three chapters are set up.

In Beef Stolen-Off, there was no question in my mind where I should start. I wanted my heroine to go the Cattleman’s Ball where I introduce all the new characters. The lead in for this is Jordan talking with the Empire Apartments gang (recurring characters) about her assignment. I’m always so conflicted about how much I need to retell about the main characters. On one hand, I hate to bore those who already know these characters, but on the other, I have to assume some people are reading this book without having first read Liver Let Die. (What are you waiting on??)

In Murder for the Halibut, book 3, the setting is a culinary contest on a cruise ship. (Think Top Chef meets my Clueless Cook.) I went back and forth as to where to actually start the story. Should I put them walking onto the ship? What about starting out with the first competition which I called the Greased Lightning Elimination Round?

I finally settled on a scene on a fishing boat the day before the cruise when my heroine and the contestants spend the day drinking, eating, and trying to get bonus points by catching enough fish to feed the judges and 25 tasters in the elimination round. Of course, with contestants who will do anything to win the prize, all is fair in love and cooking competitions, and somebody ends up with a huge saltwater fish hook in his thumb. Did I mention booze plays a big part in the fishing trip?

Which brings me back to my original thought about where I should start book 4. There are several ways to start a novel. Here are a few of them with a made-up example.

1. Open with narrative.
The Texas heat burned down on the plains with the vengeance of Satan himself.

2. Open with dialogue
“Damn, it’s hotter than hell today.”

3. Open with action.
She grabbed her arm as a bullet pierced her shoulder, and she fell to the drought-hardened ground, feeling the heat of the Texas sun caking the blood as it ran down her arm.

Okay, I know these are lame examples, but you get the point. Although my writing style is to start with action, I have used every one of these in my books. The second one below is the first book of my new Dead Sister Talking Mystery Series coming from Midnight Ink next summer.

Liver Let DieSingle white female stuck in a dead-end job, looking for tall dark rich guy… (Narrative)

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINEThe first wave of light-headedness hit like an out-of-control hangover when she leaned forward to put the half-empty glass on the coffee table. (Action, albeit not much!!)

Murder for the Halibut Whose hair-brained idea was this, anyway? (Dialogue)

I believe first lines are so important I change mine at least five or six times before I settle on one. I’m thinking for my new story I should open with my heroine Jordan meeting her love interest’s sister and mother for the first time. Maybe something like.

“So you’re the girl Alex has been shacking up with.”

Just kidding. These are cozies, remember??

Anyway, I’m really curious what you like to read right out of the box when you start a new novel. Narrative, dialogue, or action? Does the genre make a difference to you? Is that first line really important to you? Have you ever passed on a book after reading that line at the bookstore? I’ve decided I’m going to take your responses and write a post for my group blog. Writers are always interested in reader preferences. So, bring it on.

~Liz

 O.K. the second line in Beef Stolen-Off “What? That old bat kicked the bucket?” and we are off on another adventure with Jordan McAllister. It doesn’t matter how Liz starts the book because so are off on a amazing trip.

Liz, I hope you will visit again soon and often. You always make us smile!!! or laugh or have soda shoot out of our noses. (Well me anyway, when reading about the duck in the first book.)

Now be sure to answer Liz’s question!!!
Bonus Entries in the giveaway for comments!!

Beef Stolen-Off
(A Clueless Cook Mystery)

2nd in Series

A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group

Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Sarah Oberrender

Jordan McAllister is the food columnist for the Ranchero Globe even though she is a pretty clueless cook.

She may not know much about cuts of beef but Lucas Santana, cattle baron, thinks her column may help boost beef sales so he invites her to the Cattlemen’s Ball. He even sets her up with a date for the evening. Unfortunately she doesn’t get to know him very well. Shortly after the dinner starts he starts to sweat and have trouble breathing. She winds up at the emergency room where she finds her date was dead on arrival.

It is not long before she realizes his death was no accident. She decides it is up to her to take the bull by the horns and lasso up the killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This release date of this book couldn’t have been planned better. The tv show Dallas is back on the air and in the very second episode the Ewings are at the Cattlemen’s Ball. I didn’t see Jordan hanging around but it sure wasn’t hard to imagine that a murder could occur there. The author tells me there was no coordination between the show and this book release, just a happy coincidence.

This installment really has the Big Texas feel. Hunky cowboys, huge ranches,  and of course Texas BBQ. The new characters in this book were so well defined it was hard to believe we just met them. The Empire Apartments gang was back in full glory and we even got to spend some time with Jordan’s brother, Danny. Jordan’s love life was kind of hit or miss in this installment. Hard when the guy you want to get to know so much better has a job that can need him in an instant and keep him away for weeks. Jordan also finally makes a friend at the paper.

The mystery is USDA Prime as well. Plenty of diversions to keep the reader on their toes. We learn a bit about cattle raising too, some of it hair raising as well. 

Marbled through the entire mystery are touches of humor I have come to expect from Liz Lipperman. She has the gift are creating sassy dialogue, unique observations and circumstances that can make you laugh out loud. In this edition, the brother/sister pranks and commentary were so entertaining.

This series is absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait until Murder for the Halibut comes out December 31, 2012. For now be sure to get your hands on Beef Stolen-Off  today!!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About Liz Lipperman
Liz Lipperman writes mysteries to die for. Beef Stolen-Off is the second book of her Clueless Cook Series about a wannabe sports reporter who ends up writing the culinary column at a small town newspaper in Texas despite the fact that she can’t cook a lick. Her Romantic Mystery, Mortal Deception, written as Lizbeth Lipperman, is available now at Amazon and she’s just sold a paranormal series titled A Dead Sister Talking Mysteries Series to Midnight Ink. The first book, HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, also written as Lizbeth Lipperman, will release in May 2013. SHATTERED DREAMS, a Romantic Suspense will be available in the Fall. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her grandchildren and watching any and all sports.You can find her here.

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
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.

Answer Liz’s question for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End August 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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

Posted in Reviews 2012

Review: Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Faithful Unto Death
(A Sugar Land Mystery)

New Series
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Available Now

Faithful Unto Death


Sugar Land, Texas is a beautiful master-planned community where famous athletes rub shoulders with ranchers.

It is home to Walker “Bear” Wells, minister and a former college football player. Bear has dealt with a lot over the years with his congregation and his own family but when a man is found murdered on a local golf course he finds himself somewhere her never dreamed he would be, right in the middle of all the drama. Every time he turns around, another facet of the investigation tangles with his own life. Case in point, Bear’s rebellious daughter is currently dating the murdered man’s son.

It make take more than a prayer to catch this killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
A intriguing debut with a very pleasing preacher protagonist. Walker “Bear” Wells is not your typical preacher. He has trouble coming up with a prayer on the spur of the moment and has very unique sense of humor. People do feel safe telling him everything and anything. But will he keep his promises and keep things confidential?

Sugar Land has a wonderful set of quirky characters that add so much to the story. Annie Laurie is the perfect preacher’s wife, Jo is the typical “preacher’s kid”, you know obstinate and ready for trouble. Bear and Detective Wanderley will learn they make a really good team. Add to that a bunch of people trying to cover for each other and cover their own A**, when no one is sure what really happened made this a very enjoyable read.

I will anxiously be awaiting the next book in this series. This is another author to keep our eyes on!

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Check out Stephanie’s blog here.

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 E-Book Challenge Reviews 2012

Review: The Ninth Step by Barbara Taylor Sissel

The Ninth Step
Amazon Digital Services
This is an e-book.

Landscaper Livie Saunders knows all about the “language of flowers” and she shared her knowledge with fiancee Cotton O’Dell. Then the day that should be one of the happiest in her life turns out to be one of the worst. Cotton fails to show up at the church on their wedding day. In fact he has disappeared and no one knows where he has gone.

Livie throws herself into her work, even burying her wedding dress beneath a garden pond. Other gifts like napkins and tablecloths find their way into some of her other projects. She tries to move on with her life but she can’t bury her feelings. She loved this man and her just left her. She goes a little crazy and hits the town in a red sequined dress and stiletto heels and ends up in more than one stranger’s bed. Realizing the mistakes she is making she puts the dress and the heels away and tries to lead an ordinary life with close friends and family.

Six years later Cotton returns and her carefully constructed life starts to crumble. There are so many questions he needs to answer. He hopes all the people he hurt will forgive him, including Livie. There will be a heavy price to pay when all the secrets come out. Cotton really made a stupid choice when he left town. The decisions he makes now will effect more than his future with Livie, they could have deadly consequences.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Barbara Taylor Sissel has written a very compelling story with some unexpected twists.

The character Cotton makes a split second decision that changes not only his life but the lives of others. It sends him into a downward spiral that lasts until he meets the right person to help him put his life back on track. Alcoholism is a terrible disease many people live with staying sober just “one day at a time”. Part of Alcoholics Anonymous is their 12-step program. Step Nine is to “make amends”. This step is hard when so many people are involved and you did something terrible when you were blinded by alcohol.

Livie life has been in a sort of limbo. You can’t just stop loving someone if when they broke your heart. Then just when she is getting stronger and her life is moving forward the one she loved so much returns. She wants to trust him again but her friends and family do everything they can to keep them apart and protect her.

Both characters had rocky years growing up. As does a certain little girl that has a major impact on this story.

This an emotional story with multifaceted characters. A fine piece of fiction. Another author I want to read more from.

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Check out what other readers had to say here.

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 E-Book Challenge Literary Escapes Reviews 2012

Mortal Deception by Liz Roth

Mortal Deception
Kindle

What would do if you found out your nephew was dying? Dani Perez’s twin sister’s son is dying. There is a long shot cure that would save him but can Dani follow through on the crazy plan the sisters come up with. She is also trying to clear her husband’s name. He was killed during a bust and has been labeled a “dirty cop”. Her entire world is turned upside down as she tries to complete and survive both missions.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is one of those stories that I don’t want to tell you too much about so that I don’t ruin any of the suspense. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down.

This is a exciting story with really strong family relationships. The things we do for love. Dani puts her life on the line for both her nephew and her husband’s memory.

The author takes us with these characters on a journey of love, loss, surprise, tension, fear, worry, and hope in an extraordinary way.

This is my first Liz Roth novel that I would classify as a romantic thriller. I hope she has another one it the works because I definitely want more!! I highly recommend this one.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

This book is from my personal collection.