Apr 192019
 


On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


Lucky Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (March 5, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-10: 9780758272751
ISBN-13: 978-0758272751
Kindle ASIN: B009L93H7Y

It’s Christmas Day in the sleepy town of Sorenson, Wisconsin, but instead of unwrapping presents, deputy coroner Mattie Winston is at the burnt remains of a house, where a charred body has been found. The victim is none other than Jack Allen–a paraplegic who recently won a huge casino jackpot. Upon closer inspection, Mattie and detective Steve Hurley are convinced Jack was murdered to steal his winnings, giving the phrase Black Jack a whole new meaning. . .

But as Mattie investigates, even her cutting-edge forensic skills keep coming up short in a case with as many suspects as twists. After her odds-on-favorite turns up dead, Mattie and Hurley must race to find a killer before another victim cashes in his chips.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston catches a case on Christmas Day. Firemen called to a fire have found a body among the ashes. They are able to identify the man as Jack Allen, a paraplegic who was said to keep the fortune he recently won at the nearby casino in his home. Evidence shows the fire was deliberately set and not an accident as the killer had hoped. They also find Allen’s hiding spot empty. Working with detective Steve Hurley Mattie chases down clues while trying to ignore the romantic electricity that is running between them. They are also drawn into another case involving a missing man that was found floating in the river. Again, the evidence shows foul play.

I loved the first 3 books in this series for many reasons.

  1. It is set in my home state of Wisconsin.
  2. The text is full of Wisconsin references and the dialogue sounds just like the way I talk.
  3. The story is usually well-written and plotted.
  4. The humor flows from beginning to end.

But the thing I liked the best was protagonist Mattie Winston. She is a curvy woman, 6 feet tall, with size 12 feet, and she never fails to find herself the butt of a joke of her own making. This time mud and fire ants lead to two of her misadventures. The woman and the situations she gets herself into are flat out hilarious.

But this time she does some really stupid things that almost had me throwing the book at the wall and not finishing it. I also wish she stood up for herself better with her ex. She is a smart woman but when David is around she turns to mush. He cheated on her! He is the one who got at work with his pants down literally! Yet, she just lets him get away with everything. It is a good thing I was wrapped up in the main mystery and needed to know who killed a man in a wheelchair or this would have been a DNF.

Like Jack Allen, I deal with paralysis, I am a hemiplegic where my right side is mostly paralyzed while he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. I identified with this character and was sad he was the victim. It really got my dander up that someone took advantage of him and then killed him all out of greed. So I was totally focused on his killer being brought to justice. There is a long list of probable suspects and I was “in the right church, wrong pew, with my thinking when it came down to nailing the killer.

The second case was easier for me to solve and really broke my heart. It hit a little close to home for me and sadly was a sign of our time.

There was also a trip to Florida for a forensic convention during the holidays, that really made no sense and could have been completely left out.

The romantic issues were like a roller coaster ride and I was excited about it until the first curveball hit, but it was the final pitch that again had me wanting to throw the book at the wall and because the mysteries were solved I DID!

So, No! this was not a Perfect Escape but it wasn’t A Dreadful Detour either. There were things I really enjoyed about the story but there many I didn’t.  I really want to know what happens next with these characters. So after a little break, I will venture into book 5, Board Stiff in hopes this book just had a couple of missteps.

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About the Author

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

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


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Sep 102018
 

Book Blast

Coming from Crooked Lane Books October 9, 2018

A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

About the Book

A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted Mystery
NEW COZY MYSTERY SERIES
SET IN WISCONSIN
Crooked Lane Books (October 9, 2018)
Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1683317718
ISBN-13: 978-1683317715
Digital ASIN: B078LZ5ZM5

For fans of Betty Hechtman and Maggie Sefton, the latest craft frenzy is Holly Quinn’s Handcrafted series debut.

Sammy Kane just moved back to her hometown to run a craft store. But when the owner of a nearby yarn shop is murdered, Sammy will needle little help finding the killer.

When a heartbroken Samantha “Sammy” Kane returns to her hometown of Heartsford, WI, for her best friend Kate’s funeral, she learns that Kate’s much-loved craft store is in danger of perishing with its owner. Confounding all her expectations of the life she would live, Sammy moves back home with her golden retriever and takes over Community Craft. A few doors down Main Street, fellow new arrival Ingrid Wilson has just opened the Yarn Barn, a real “purl” of a shop. But when Sammy strolls over to see if Ingrid could use a little help, she finds Ingrid’s dead body—with a green aluminum knitting needle lodged in her throat.

Detective Liam Nash is thrown for a loop as every single citizen of Heartsford seems to have a theory about Ingrid’s murder. And nearly everyone in town seems to be a suspect. But the last time Sammy did any sleuthing was as a little moppet. And this is not fun and games. Sammy is eager to help the handsome Liam—who seems to be endlessly inventive in finding reasons to talk with her—and when Liam arrests affable woodworker Miles Danbury, Sammy puts everything on the line to help clear Miles.

As the case comes dangerously close to unraveling, Sammy must stitch the clues together. But the killer has other plans—and if Sammy’s not careful, she may wind up in a perilous knot in A Crafter Knits a Clue, the first warm and woolly yarn of Holly Quinn’s new Handcrafted mysteries.

About the Author

Holly Quinn is both an avid reader and crafter. Holly sells her artistic creations locally and dreamed of one day opening a gift shop to sell local artist’s handiwork. Instead, she began writing about it and thus her journey of the Handcrafted Mystery series was born. Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com

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Aug 172018
 

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

Dead Spider (A Loon Lake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
17th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (May 23, 2017)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 1440598800
ISBN-13: 978-1440598807
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 1507204566
ISBN-13: 978-1507204566
Kindle ASIN: B01MYCJ8LL

In the next installment of the Loon Lake Mystery series, Lewellyn Ferris and Doc Osborne must solve a murder that shatters the picturesque Wisconsin lake town community at the height of summer.

On a lovely Sunday afternoon in late June, the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close. People are happy, kids are full of ice cream, and teenagers are setting off firecrackers so loud that no one hears the gunshot.

But when the crowd thins out, an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the head has killed her much older husband—the richest man in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, as the murder investigation gets underway, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris’s good friend and deputy coroner, “Doc” Osborne, is alarmed to hear that his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting.

And Loon Lake’s idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in the local nursing home discover they have been robbed.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Chuck Pfeiffer owns Pfeiffer’s Fishing, Golf, and Shooting Sports and is said to be the richest man in Wisconsin. He is the primary sponsor of the Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament. The final judging is underway and some fool is lighting off fireworks. As Doc Osbourne, his daughter and granddaughter are leaving they hear screams and rush back to find a man dead. Doc places a call to Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris, “Lewellyn, the richest man in Wisconsin just took a bullet to the brain.”

I have enjoyed all of my virtual trips to Loon Lake and this one was no different. No matter how busy Lew is trying to solve crimes she always finds time to get in the water for a little fly fishing with Doc. Sometimes they are joined by one or more other characters. The solitude she finds there shows the author’s love of fishing and being on the lake. My grandfather loved to fish and took me with him several times and every time I open one of these books memories of him just flood my mind.

The murder this time happened in a crowd of people, but no one seemed to see anything. Thankfully everyone including the people in the Pfeiffer tent were filming the day on cameras or their phones. Of course, no one actually caught the murder while it was happening, or did they? Lew calls in an expert to help them go through the tapes and really tune in to what they are seeing and it started to bring some suspects to light.

Doc also had another crime on his mind and that one takes a scary and horrific turn. It kept me right on the edge of my seat.

Ms. Houston drew me right into this story. After 17 books in the series, I am invested in these characters and care about what happens to them. She gave me a mystery that held my attention. I realized the killer just a little before Lew and Osbourne but the final reveal wasn’t what I hoped or imagined, but it was understandable.

Set in my home state I love reading the descriptions of the area and the mentions of familiar places. I think it is time to take a real live trip to loon lake instead of these virtual ones 🙂

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.

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I am giving my paperback review copy away!
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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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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 

Purchase Links
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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.”

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May 232017
 

The Simplicity of Cider: A Novel
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (May 16, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501179723
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501154928
Kindle ASIN: B01HMXRVKO

 

 

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

After read Luck, Love & Lemon Pie last year I knew this was an author I would keep me eye on. When I heard about this new book I couldn’t wait to read it.

Isaac Banks and his son Bass, short for Sebastian, are on a cross country adventure. Isaac is trying to protect his son from the realities at home. They soon find themselves in Wisconsin’s Door County. A beautiful place full of cherries, a restaurant where goats graze on the roof, Green Bay (not the town where the Packers play), lighthouses and apple orchards. Isaac and Bass soon find themselves at Idun’s, an apple orchard that has been owned by the Lund family for five generations. Sanna Lund and her father now run the place and Sanna has a special talent for making cider. Her father has mortgaged the farm to purchase all the equipment she needs to produce on a large scale. Her brother has nothing to do with the orchard anymore but thinks it needs to be sold to take care of the debt because they have received a huge offer.

Issac and Bass agree to help with the chores. It is like fate brought them to this place. Sanna really doesn’t like kids but after a couple of days that changes as Bass finds a way into her heart. She and Isaac also feel a connection neither of them understand. When someone’s actions threaten Sanna’s precious trees and the entire orchard things get complicated.

This is such a beautiful story and so well written. The author has a way of writing that pictures of people, time, and place just come alive with such detailed imagery. Maybe it is because I have traveled to Door County several times that I had a crystal clear picture of everything she described but I truly believe it was her words that took me right along with Sanna, Issac and Bass.

She gives us a story of family, love, loss, and a little touch of something that “just is” and can only be explained by the belief that love carries through the generations and appears in unexpected ways.

These are such special characters. Their hearts are heavy with secrets and vulnerability that ebbs and flows through the entire series, even after some trust has been earned. The relationships built are so unique.

The Simplicity of Cider flows at a nice and easy pace. It was a relaxing read. I usually read a book like this in one or two nights but I didn’t want the story to end. I took time to savor every page and word. This book will make my list of Best Reads for 2017.

Dollycas

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Find out more about Amy and her books here

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!
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with a US or Canadian mailing address.

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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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Jan 102017
 

My First Book Read in 2017

The Mutual Admiration Society: A Novel
by Lesley Kagen
Fiction/Family Life
Setting – Wisconsin
Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2017)
Paperback: 282 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1503941038
Kindle ASIN: B01G50QX2C

 

 

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark comes an unforgettable novel that illuminates the sweet and brittle bonds of family, the tenderness of growing up, the heartbreak of longing for what we’ve lost, and the poignancy of finding love.

FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.

Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

FACT: Lesley Kagen captures the voices of children in a profound way.

PROOF: This story!

Set in Milwaukee Wisconsin, we meet 11 year old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, her younger sister, Birdie, and her “fiancee”, Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield. They make up the Mutual Admiration Society. Tessie is sure she saw a crime committed and the society needs to start its investigation right away. They just need to get around some house rules and Gert Klement, their next door neighbor, who is not their biggest fan. In fact, she believes they need to be sent away.

These characters were first introduced to readers in The Undertaking of Tess, released in 2014. While the author does give plenty of details so that this book can be read on its own, you may want to read the prior story first for more background on the Finley’s. 

As a mystery lover I enjoyed Tessie and her lists and methodical investigation and that Birdie found a key clue and really helped Tessie figure out the suspected murder. Through the eyes of children in the late 1950’s I was able to see things in a different way. It was quite an adventure. Tessie has already dealt with so much in her young life and is responsible for watching over Birdie every day. Her lists do get a little repetitive but through them readers clearly see the way her mind works.

Kagen has crafted a heartwarming story but at times it is heartbreaking too. Her characters are so unique and the dialogue is true to a child’s voice and sprinkled liberally with humor. The world has changed since 1959. It was wonderful to escape back in time and tag along on this adventure with the Mutual Admiration Society.

I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author. She is an extremely talented storyteller.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Lesley Kagen and her books on her webpage 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.”

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Nov 142015
 

dead teaseDead Tease
(Loon Lake Mystery)

12th in Series
Mystery
Setting – Wisconsin
Tyrus Books (March 17, 2012)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1440533129
Trade Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1440533112
E-Book – ASIN: B007L7LNMO
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

 

A hot August afternoon and Midwest Clinic CEO John McNeil has been working late. Working on his latest conquest, that is. Jen Williams is twenty-six, in charge of graphics for the hospital’s PR division—and quite attractive in a healthy, athletic kind of way. She is quick to laugh and a little too quick to fall for guys. She is no virgin. And she is one of three women—including his wife—intimately familiar with McNeil.

When Jen’s youthful body is found with a single stab wound through the heart, suspicion falls on both McNeil’s wife, who insists she is being stalked, and the striking hospital physician with whom he had just ended an affair. Pressure to find the killer falls on Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris and Dr. Paul “Doc” Osborne, the retired dentist and forensic dental expert whom she has deputized to help with the investigation—when they are not taking a break for fishing and other personal pursuits. When the mayor demands Lew take early retirement—and Doc has to babysit his teenage granddaughter who won’t stop texting—the frustrations mount.

Desperate for a few hours off—and persuaded by Ray Pradt (a fishing guide who wears a stuffed trout on his head, so they should have known better)—to try fly fishing from kayaks, Doc and Lew find themselves in life-and-death straits on the river. This leads to an unexpected and macabre discovery that just may break the case.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Time to travel north and escape to Loon Lake. This time Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris assisted by Dr. Paul “Doc” Osborne is investigating the death of a young woman. She was found stabbed through the heart outside her home. Lew and Doc start out at her work place and the CEO John McNeil. A man with secrets is always a good suspect.

I have enjoyed this series from the start. I love these characters. When the mayor started pushing about retirement Lew and the reason why he was doing it made me want to scream. But Lew took a little time to reflect and then she found a way to stop the mayor in his tracks and I had a huge smile on my face.

The mystery was good but not great. I did figure it out a little early but it was fun to follow Lew and Doc and their process.

As always the descriptions of the area, Northern Wisconsin, shined.

We were treated to a little humor as fishing guide Ray Pradt tries to make kayak fly fishing a realty. Oh my, Doc and Lew were his guinea pigs and it was so funny except it could have had dire consequences. Knowing they are the main characters I knew it would turn out alright.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

This book was from my private collection. 

To find out more bout Victoria Houston visit her webpage here.

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Jun 262015
 

This is a little different from what I usually review but Michael Perry is a Wisconsin author that writes about life in Wisconsin in a very fun way. This is his debut into fiction waters and I just had to share it with you.

JESUS COWThe Jesus Cow: A Novel
Fiction – Humor – Satire
Setting – Wisconsin
Harper Collins (May 19, 2015)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ASIN: B00N0W4ZT2
E-Book ASIN: B00N0W4ZT2
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Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”

Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door, and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and raise enough money to keep his land—and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?

Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and t-shirts. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This was a wonderful read. I love stories set in my own state. Michael Perry dips his unique writing style into the fiction well and I loved it.

In The Jesus Cow we visit Swivel, Wisconsin on Christmas Eve as Harley Jackson’s cow gives birth to a very special calf. Harley is unsure what to do until Hollywood comes to town and turns his life and the town of Swivel upside down.

Farming, religion, politics, housing recession, ecological concerns, romance, neighborly feuds, and even a bit of scandal come together in the very satirical portrait of small town life.  The people of Swivel are those you could find in any small town. They all have their causes and quirky behaviors. Harley Jackson hasn’t had much luck in the finding true love. He is happy working his job, tending his “beefers” and being part of the volunteer fire department.  I like Harley, he is different. He is introverted and was brought up in a very religious home but has lost his faith. When his calf is born with a clear picture of Jesus Christ on its side he truly wonders if it’s a sign. He remembers the teachings pf his mother. Good Christians do not draw attention. When his secret gets out he is really in a quandary about what to do.

Michael Perry is an incredible storyteller. He has created interesting characters and a town for them to come together and be observed in a way only he can. The story in funny and touching and does have a message.  Those that already loved Perry’s non-fiction works will love this. If he is a new author to you this is a great place to start.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Michael Perry and his work on his webpage here.

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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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Dec 042014
 

Cash killsCash Kills:
An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery

2nd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by Cozy Cat Press (June 3, 2014)
Trade Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939816443
E-Book File Size: 488 KB
ASIN: B00OIG3BOY
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When her office mate, accountant Susan Neh, brings Angelina Bonaparte a client named Adriana Johnson, the PI wonders how she can help this bedraggled young woman. Adriana’s parents, immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, were murdered only a week earlier, in a robbery at their small hardware store. Now she has discovered that, despite living like the working poor, they were actually quite wealthy––with numerous large bank accounts located around the world. Adriana is suspicious about her newfound status and hires Angie to discover the nature of her deceased parents’ wealth. When Angie arrives to interview with the parents’ attorney, Herman Petrovitch, he is missing, but his secretary Dragana is there––lying dead on the office floor, with her head blown off. Homicide detective––and Angie’s own boyfriend––Ted Wukowski, cautions her against getting involved in the murder investigation. Of course, Angie pays little heed to his warning.

I cut the synopsis down a bit because I think the longer version gives too much away.

Dollycas Thoughts

Angie Bo-nah-par-tay is back in the second installment to this mystery series set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I love this character.  She is a feisty, 50 something, private investigator with all the right connections. Her father has ties to the mob and her boyfriend is a police detective. She has friends in high and low places and she uses all those connections to help keep Adriana Johnson safe while she investigates her monetary windfall due to her parents death. Angie opens quite a can of worms. While following the clues she realizes there is much more there than she ever imagined. Could the money and her parent’s deaths be connected? Can this really go back to the Bosnian War?

Angie really starts to look at Adriana as more than a client. Her mothering instincts start to take over and that could mean trouble as she lets her guard down regarding her own safety. Adriana has led a very sheltered and meager life and can’t believe the way her parents had deceived her.

This is quite a story. Set at Thanksgiving time I read this at the perfect time. In addition to investigating Adriana’s case Angie has a lot going on in her personal life. Her relationship with Ted is flowing at a perfect pace. She finally meets Ted’s Polish mother and she invites both of them to her family’s Sicilian/American Thanksgiving so they can meet her very unique family. (You do know that Thanksgiving is the most stressful holiday don’t you?)

The Russian and Serbian elements were very interesting as I usually think of Milwaukee and Wisconsin having a strong German and Polish population but it has truly become a melting pot for all nationalities. In fact I just learned the Bosnian population is growing in Milwaukee due to the recent migration after the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and that ties right into this story. Thank you Wikipedia.

Nanci Rathbun has given us wonderful characters and they are real and down to earth. They are truly fleshed out with depth and it is so easy to become involved in their lives. From Spider, the bodyguard to Angie’s Aunt Terry, these are people I want to know more about.  This author’s story lines are tight with the main plot and subplots woven seamlessly together. Her setting is less than hour from my home and she shows us many sides to Milwaukee. It is fun to read about places you are familiar with. There is also humor spread throughout the story to balance out the edges of the mystery.

This is a great follow up to Truth Kills and I can’t wait to get my hands on Deception Kills when it comes out next year.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

author NanciAbout This Author

Nanci Rathbun is a lifelong reader of mysteries – historical, contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, hard-boiled, cozy … you can find them all on her bookshelves. She brings logic and planning to her writing from a background as an IT project manager, and attention to characters and dialog from her second career as a Congregationalist minister. Her first novel, Truth Kills: An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery, is out in both paperback and ebook formats. The first chapter is available free on her web site and on her Goodreads page. Cash Kills is the second book in the series. Number three has a working title of Deception Kills, with plans to publish in 2015.

Nanci is a longtime Wisconsin resident who relocated to Tennessee to be closer to her granddaughters – oh, and their parents – and is planning an upcoming move to the West Coast for the same reason. No matter where she lives, she will always be a Packers fan.

Author Links
Webpage: http://nancirathbun.com
Facebook: Author Nanci Rathbun
Twitter: @nancirathbun
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7199317.Nanci_Rathbun
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nanci-Rathbun/e/B00E9E7QCI

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

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Oct 182014
 

First I need to apologize to Christine DeSmet. I love featuring authors from my home state of Wisconsin. It definitely took me way too long to find this series!

FIRST DEGREE FUDGE
First-Degree Fudge:
A Fudge Shop Mystery

First in the Series
Cozy Mystery
An Obsidian Mystery (September 3, 2013)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451416476
E-Book File Size: 753 KB
ASIN: B00BDQ38V8
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New candy store owner Ava Oosterling specializes in making heavenly homemade fudge and fresh starts. But she’s just found out that her newest flavor is to die for….

Between getting her store up and running and uneasily settling back into her charming Lake Michigan hometown, Ava Oosterling has her plate full. She hopes using local fresh dairy and her own flavorful imagination to cook up one-of-a-kind fudge will also create a brand-new start for her. And if she can tempt wealthy ex–film star Rainetta Johnson to try her newest creation, Cinderella Pink, at a local fund-raiser, maybe her road to big-time success will be short and sweet.

But when Rainetta chokes to death on a stolen diamond hidden in the fudge’s fluffy depths, Ava is pegged as the prime suspect. Now saving her business and reputation means investigating a batch of townspeople who had numerous reasons to hate disdainful, hard-bargaining Rainetta. With Ava’s best friend and her former flame in the suspect mix, she must figure out who the real culprit is fast or face a very bitter end.…

Includes Delicious Fudge Recipes and Fudge-Making Tips!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Oosterling’s Live Bait, Bobbers, & Belgian Fudge is where Ava Oosterling sells her fudge right across the store where her grandfather sells bait, bobbers, beer and other things a fisherman may need. Located on the pier in Fisher’s Harbor, Wisconsin, in the heart of Door County.

Door County is a place we have vacationed at several times over the years and Fisher’s Harbor depicts clearly the life of the towns along the peninsula protruding into Lake Michigan. I enjoyed all the local references included those outside of Door County. Heck the town we are living in now even gets a mention. Door County is known for its lighthouses, fish boils and cherry orchards.  Wisconsin is also home to the Green Bay Packers and fans just love their beer and brats. The author gives us a great overview of the entire area.

She introduces us to Ava who has returned to the area after short stints in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. One bad decision pulled her life off course and she has come back home to start over. Her parents own a farm that can supply some of the fudge ingredients and her grandfather (Gilpa) has some room in his store. Together they decided to add a few special things and make half of the shop a place for Eva to make and sell her fudge.  She has a chance to really get her product off to a good start at an event ex–film star Rainetta Johnson will be attending but things go awry when the actress is found dead with a piece of Ava’s fudge in her mouth.

An author faces an uphill battle when debuting a new cozy series. They not only need to introduce to the characters and the setting but they also have to wrap it all in a mystery that keeps readers engaged while at the same time leaving room for the characters to grow in future installments. I think Christine DeSmet did this very well. The premise of the mystery was a little bit out there but I could see the possibilities. One major clue helped me to  figure out who the killer was a bit before Ava but I did enjoy her following the breadcrumbs and catch the culprit.

The story has just the right amount of humor and romantic tension you could cut with a knife. The characters are charming and I want to know more about them.  DeSmet has laid a good foundation for the series. I hope to read Hot Fudge Frame-Up soon. Five-Alarm Fudge. the 3rd book in the story will be out April 7, 2015.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Christine DeSmet and her books on her web page 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.”

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A Deadly Feast: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette Order Your Copy Today!
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