Nov 302018
 

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.

Mischief in Moonstone Series, Novella 2: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone
Romance Novella
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Writers Exchange E-Publishing (March 14, 2017)
Print Length: 93 pages
Kindle ASIN: B06XNPQLJ3

This delightful series focuses on the humorous mystery and romantic adventures of the kind folks who live in the environs of a small village nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Along the way in the series, silkie chickens, a giant prehistoric beaver skeleton, a kidnapped reindeer, and other flora and fauna contribute to the amusing mischief and mayhem.

When the men of Moonstone suddenly seem to be off fishing a lot in the evenings, thus cutting down on her new restaurant’s business, chef Kirsten Peplinski becomes suspicious. She discovers a topless touring boat has set up business in Lake Superior, just outside the jurisdiction of Moonstone. She sets out to give a “dressing down” to the boat’s owner, but Jonathon VanBrocklin kidnaps her, having “undressing” and marrying her on his mind.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Our last visit to Moonstone was at Christmastime, this time a floating topless touring boat creates havoc as all the male residents have “gone fishing” several days in a row. The female population had no idea what they were really up to until they promoted Kirsten Peplinski to temporary mayor and send her out to see what exactly “is biting”. What she finds is Jonathon VanBrocklin and he just may be too hot to handle.

This was a fun mini escape on a Sunday afternoon. The characters were engaging and funny. The romance sizzled at just the right temperature. Again, as with the first novella of this series, When Rudolph was Kidnapped, this story has a Lifetime or Hallmark movie feel. Being set in my home state of Wisconsin was just the thing to hook me from beginning to end. 

I enjoyed Christine DeSmet’s cozy mysteries as well.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

Christine DeSmet author picAbout The Author
Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She’s also an award-winning scriptwriter and teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies where she directs the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. You can find her on Facebook or at her website, www.ChristineDeSmet.com.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away 1 Kindle copy sent directly from Amazon!

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Contest Will End December 14, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

*Book was purchased from Amazon for my private collection.

Oct 162018
 

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
Setting – 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.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Knit one, purl MURDER!

Sammy Kane has returned to Heartsford for her best friend Kate’s funeral and when she hears the craft store will close without a new owner Sammy decides to stay and take over the store. Community Craft has become a gathering place for the crafters in the area and also allows them to sell their creations.

There is also another new shop owner in town. Ingrid Wilson has opened a store selling the most beautiful barn. While Sammy is happy to have The Yarn Barn in town, the owner is always needing help in one way or another. She has no problem calling Sammy’s employee, Kate’s little brother, with tasks she says she just handle. Carter and Sammy are trying to get Community Craft ready for the annual Spring Fling when Ingrid calls Carter for help. Sammy tells Carter to keep doing what he is doing while she handles a couple of things and then she will go over to help Ingrid. When she arrives, she finds yarn shop order dead on the floor, a knitting needle the killer’s weapon of choice.

Heartsford also has a new police detective. Sammy meets Liam Nash when he arrives on the scene. He learns right away about a tragedy in a small town – Everyone has an opinion and are not afraid to point fingers at any other resident they think committed the crime. Sammy has a little experience as a sleuth herself. S.H.E. was detective club of Sammy, her sister Elle, and their cousin Heidi had in their childhood. Like Nancy Drew, they solved several “crimes”. The group reunites when they think Detective Liam Nash is not solving Ingrid’s murder fast enough. They realize it’s not as easy as they thought especially when Sammy is threatened physically to back off.

****

Heartsford, if it was an actual town would be a short drive from where I live in Wisconsin. I know the author lives nearby too because she has captured Springtime in Wisconsin perfectly. It is one of the places you can experience all four seasons in one day. Mother Nature is very fickle in the Spring. It can be snowing in the morning, the sun comes out in the early afternoon with rising temps, then later the wind picks up and by night she will throw a good old fashioned thunderstorm at us. Heck, there are days when it rains in the front yard while the sun is shining brightly in the backyard.  😎

Holly Quinn has inhabited Heartsford with fantastic residents too! So many crafters. I liked that in addition to the shops in town we see how important the school is to this community. School events play a huge part to the people in Heartsford and Wisconsin in general. Carter is on the basketball team and Big Ten scouts are at the game watching him and other players with scholarships hopes. The Spring Fling is more than just a shopping event, there is a parade that reminded me of the usual homecoming parade but for the winter sports. It was heartwarming that the town came together to support its own even with a murderer on the loose.

The investigation had many facets. Sammy is a very observant person but so is the good detective. He found several ways to come in contact with Sammy, even sharing some unknown details while she filled him on things she had uncovered. Of course, he wants her to leave everything to him, but that was never going to happen. It was fun to follow along with S.H.E. and watching Sammy spar with Liam.

This book follows what almost all first books in series’ do. It’s pace, in the beginning, is a little slow because the author has to introduce all the characters, their relationships and where they fit into the landscape of the town.  The pace picks up nicely in the second half as clues start to fall into place and suspects are honed in on or eliminated. The murder mystery was wrapped up nicely at the end but there is a cliffhanger leading to the next story. Love that!

This series is off to a splendid start. The story has a real hometown feel with characters I want to get to know better. I love that Sammy’s golden retriever is welcome and spends days with her at the store. The community was realistic. The mystery was well-plotted and executed. As a former crafter, I love the theme. All my cozy boxes were checked. I am excited about the next installment.

*There are two sock patterns too after the story.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

Author Links – Website – Facebook GoodReads 

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

Great start to this new crafty cozy mystery series.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

A Crafter Knits a Clue is an engaging cozy mystery . . . I liked the author’s writing style (conversational) which made the story easy to read especially with its steady pacing.
~The Avid Reader

Holly Quinn knits together a cozy town, relatable characters, romantic tension, and a well-plotted mystery in the debut Handcrafted Mystery novel – A Crafter Knits a Clue.
~Reading Is My SuperPower

I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and fits the bill of a traditional cozy mystery. It is full of small-town humor and charm.
~A Cozy Experience

I think the thing I liked best about this book is the caring relationships that Sammy has with so many family and friends. You can tell that the core characters love each other and enjoy spending time with each other.
~MJB Reviewers

Purchase Links
Amazon          B&N       IndieBound          BAM      Powell’s       Walmart      BookBub

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS
October 8 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 8 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
October 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
October 9 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 10 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
October 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
October 11 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
October 11 – A Cozy ExperienceREVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 12 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW
October 12 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
October 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – RECIPE POST
October 13 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 13 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
October 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 14 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 15 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
October 15 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
October 16 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 17 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
October 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 17 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 18 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 18 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 18 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
October 19 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
October 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
October 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST
October 20 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 21 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
October 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW


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

Oct 102018
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am always thrilled to have Kathleen Ernst drop by for a visit.

Immigrant Stories
by Kathleen Ernst

People sometimes ask why I so often write about 19th-century immigrants.  My fascination began in the 1980s when I worked at an outdoor ethnic museum called Old World Wisconsin. The museum features over 50 historic structures which have been moved to the site and restored.  Working as an interpreter and curator there provided tantalizing glimpses into the lives of some of the state’s first Yankee and European immigrants.

An even stronger motivation is simply my ever-growing admiration for the everyday people who made the monumental decision to leave everything familiar and gamble on a new life in Wisconsin.  I created the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries to give myself the opportunity to share some of what I’ve discovered.  Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin, and as the series progresses, she visits other special historic sites and museums.  Different books have featured different ethnic groups.

In the ninth book, The Lacemaker’s Secret, Chloe travels to northeast Wisconsin. She’s been hired to create a furnishings plan for a Belgian-American farm being restored at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay.  She’s on the hunt for insight into the lives of Belgian immigrants (and after discovering a body in an old brick bake oven, she’s soon on the hunt for a killer as well).

I knew little about the Belgians’ experience before beginning research for this book.  The immigrants, most of whom arrived in the 1850s, faced a brutal struggle to turn old-growth forest into farmland.  A devastating cholera epidemic swept through the settlements.  And in 1871, what is remembered locally as The Great Fire (which burned simultaneously with the Peshtigo Fire across the bay) blazed through many of the Belgian communities.  Over two hundred people died; over five thousand lost everything they owned.

But the Belgian immigrants’ story is not defined by tragedy.  It’s defined by strength and persistence, by faith and courage.  Today many of their descendants still live in northeast Wisconsin because their ancestors did not give up or give in.  I find that inspiring.

So does Chloe Ellefson in The Lacemaker’s Secret.  I hope that readers do as well.

~Kathleen

Thank you, Kathleen, for being my guest today! 

Now let me give you my thoughts on The Lace Maker’s Secret.

The Lace Maker’s Secret (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin/Belguim
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2018)
Paperback: 408 pages
ISBN-10: 0738753548
ISBN-13: 978-0738753546
Kindle ASIN: B0795R5H4C

Greed, Uncertainty, and Death Get Tangled in the Mystery of a Rare Piece of Belgian Lace

Curator Chloe Ellefson needs distraction from the unsettling family secret she’s just learned. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend, Roelke McKenna, has been troubled for weeks and won’t say why. Chloe hopes a consulting job at Green Bay’s Heritage Hill Historical Park, where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored, will be a relaxing escape.

Instead she discovers a body in a century-old bake oven.

Chloe’s research suggests that a rare and valuable piece of lace made its way to nearby Door County, Wisconsin, with the earliest Belgian settlers. More importantly, someone is desperate to find it. Inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the Great Fire, Chloe must untangle clues to reveal secrets old and new . . . before the killer strikes again.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This installment of this wonderful series takes Chloe Ellefson on the road to Green Bay’s Heritage Hill Historical Park. They are restoring a historic Belgian-American farmhouse and have asked her to consult on its furnishings. She recently learned some upsetting news about her family and something is definitely bothering her boyfriend. Roelke McKenna, so maybe a week away, doing the thing she loves will do them both some good. She is meeting a woman there who she has worked with in the past. The woman is a lace expert and she has been told a valuable piece of lace is part of Heritage Hill’s collection. Both women are excited to learn about the lace and its origins.

It is winter in Wisconsin and driving north Chloe encounters some slippery conditions. Just before she reaches the B&B where she will be staying she notices a summer kitchen building right off the road.  She pulls over quickly to check the place out, but she makes a grisly discovery. A dead body has been stuffed into the old bake oven. This is not the way she planned to start her week. The death has nothing to do with her. Maybe she can leave everything to the police and just do what she came to Green Bay to do. But she knows that is not going to happen, she is going to find herself right in the middle of another investigation and her favorite police officer is many miles away.

I know when I pick up a book by Kathleen Ernst I am in for a delightful read. This book was no exception. I have spent my whole life in Wisconsin and every time I read a book by this wonderful author I still learn something new. I knew the basics of the historical events that take place in this story but her fictional telling of the time period resonates and makes the time, place, and people come alive.

The historical part of the story begins in Belguim in 1848 when 12-year-old Seraphine Moreau’s father dies and she and her twin sister, Octavie are taken by their uncle to a convent school in Bruges.  She leaves her friend Jean-Paul Lejeune behind but he doesn’t forget her, he visits her and the convent often and they pledge their love to each other. While at the convent both Seraphine and Octavie learn to make the beautiful bobbin Belgian lace. In 1854, Jean-Paul returns to ask Seraphine to be his wife and travel with him to America where there are new opportunities for farmers. The story then follows their lives in Wisconsin and joins together with the current story which is set in the 1980’s.

Again, Ernst really shows her storytelling chops by marrying these two time periods together seamlessly. Both time periods feature strong women in Chloe and Seraphine and even Octavie who remains in Belguim. We see through the letters to her sister what is happening across the Atlantic. Seraphine and the immigrants struggle to just survive at times was both heartbreaking and inspirational, the perseverance shown throughout their lives was remarkable. Chloe shows her strength time and time again and she strives the find the truth even while putting herself in danger.

In Chloe’s timeframe, I always need to remind myself, 1980’s, no cell phones, no easy access to the internet, no text messages. I love the nightly phone calls between Chloe and Roelke, the calling collect, and reversing the charges. Something the current generation of kids and young adults will never know. For them, both parts of this story would be historical. I know Ms. Ernst’s books would be a great way for them to learn about history. She makes it personal and her stories stick with her readers. Her stories are well-researched but fictional so she does juggle the dates sometimes to fit her narrative while still giving an accurate picture of the things her characters endure.

I do love that the stories in this series take place in actual destinations near where I live. As my grandchildren get older these are places I would love to take them. According to their website, “Heritage Hill has earned a reputation as a jewel of the Midwest for guests from within the area and those visiting the community.” I really thank the author for bringing this treasure to my attention.

The Lacemaker’s Secret is a fantastic story filled with characters that are truly believable. They will draw readers deep into their lives. The theme of Belgian lace and the setting in Wisconsin really shows the author’s love of the history of our state. This was an amazing read!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

The last book in this series also received a Paradise Rating.
Check out my review of Mining for Justice here.

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 

Thanks to the author I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.

Sign up for Kathleen’s Mailing List for 5 Bonus Entries.

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End October 24, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner 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.”

Sep 082018
 

Goodbye Cruller World (A Deputy Donut Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (August 28, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1496711890
ISBN-13: 978-1496711892
Kindle ASIN: B077X2DMNR

Named after her beloved tabby, Deputy Donut, Emily Westhill’s donut shop in small-town Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, is doing so well, she’s expanding into catering weddings. But a killer is about to crash the reception . . .

Normally, Emily’s eyes tend to glaze over when prospective brides go on about their wedding plans. But when the owner of the clothing shop, Dressed to Kill, asks Emily to design a donut wall for her reception, she’s immediately sweet on the idea. With the help of her father-in-law and business partner—the former police chief of Fallingbrook—she hangs the treats from dowels on the wall so guests can help themselves.

But that night, when the groom ends up on the floor with signs of poisoning, Emily suspects someone has tampered with her treats. When the groom dies, there’s no way to sugarcoat it: she’s got a murder on her hands. Despite a list of suspects as long as the guest list, Emily vows to find out who created the killer confection to save her shop’s reputation and keep the bride out of handcuffs. She’ll have to move fast . . . before the poisoner takes a powder.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Weddings and donuts, that is a new tradition I would love! Emily and her father-in-law, Tom, create a donut wall for the wedding of Jenn, the owner of Dressed to Kill. The bride’s favorite donuts on one side and the groom’s favorites on the other. It is a big hit with the guests and the groom makes a regular pig of himself eating one after another. That is until he ends up dead on the floor. Seems someone has added their own secret ingredient to some of the pastries. An item that was made to kill. Everyone at the reception becomes a suspect, especially the bride. Emily knows the connection to her confections is going to be bad for business. She knows Detective Passenmath would love to pin the crime on her and Tom. She has no choice but to try the puzzle out the killer herself.

Tom and Emily own Deputy Donut, named after Emily’s tabby cat. Tom is the former police chief of Fallingbrook. His son was on the force too and Emily is a former 911 operator. The shop has a police theme complete with an old squad car for deliveries. These characters stole my heart in Survival of the Fritters. The nice thing about Deputy Donut is that police and fire personnel hang out there. Some key suspects also stop in a time or two, in addition to all the regulars. It is a unique place because Deputy Donut, the cat, has his own lair to watch over all the all the happenings. I really enjoy how the author has set this up as we get to know the characters better at this special gathering place.

The mystery this time had so many suspects but I set my sights on someone very early in the story. Then I followed along with Emily and let me tell you the author built everything up to a very exciting ending. I was right about the who and most of the why, but boy I was on the edge of my seat at the climactic scene that brought everything together.

The story is set in my wonderful state of Wisconsin and the author described everything wonderfully. The closest thing to Deputy Donut that we have nearby now is Dunkin’ Donuts, but growing up we had a wonderful bakery that reminds me in many ways of Emily and Tom’s shop. Great donuts and a great gathering place to find out all the latest news about town. Crullers are some of my favorites as are powdered sugared (I may be looking at those a little closer now). 🙂

I can’t wait for my next visit!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series–cops, crime, coffee, donuts, and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes where folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company.

 

Author Links

Website   Facebook   Twitter   GoodReads

Ginger has joined Killer Characters!


Written as Janet Bolin


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

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

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

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

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

Contest Will End February 20, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner 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.”

Jun 122018
 


The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go
Women’s Fiction
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (May 15, 2018)
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 150115494X
ISBN-13: 978-1501154942
Kindle ASIN: B075RV4CQN

Three generations. Seven days. One big secret.

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother, Lorraine, cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter, May, snubbing her. Too bad there’s no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G’s, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband.

But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine’s kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother’s failing health and her daughter’s rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Gina Zoberski is trying to adjust to life without her husband, May misses her dad like crazy and thinks her mom doesn’t miss her dad enough. Gina’s mom, Lorraine continues to find fault in everything Gina says and does. When Lorraine has a debilitating stroke her real story comes to light and it is surprising.

I know all too well that dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard.  You need to find that balance of grieving in public and in private. My heart ached for Gina and May. Gina put on a brave face and a smile every day as she tried to move forward. Lorraine still took her to task about everything. May had closed herself off from her friends, even those willing to be there for her no matter what.

Amy Reichert has penned an emotional story but it is filled with light moments too. Gina owns a food truck, Grilled G’s, that sells gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. She is always coming up with new recipes and she has a customer that brings her unusual ingredients to try. May also has culinary skills, she excels at baking brownies with some unique twists of her own. This author’s stories always have a food element and I love that!

The author handles the family dynamic very well. I enjoyed how the story unfolded. A big secret is revealed that shines everything that has happened in an entirely new light. I became invested in these characters and that made me very emotional and even had me reaching for a tissue at the end of the story.

Set not far from where I live, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, I loved all the references to places I knew. She mentions just one of the many Milwaukee festivals, Polish Fest too, but you don’t have to be from Wisconsin to enjoy the book. Her words create the imagery to bring you right here.

This is a wonderful story about mothers and their daughters. Moving and genuine with strong female characters. An absolutely “perfect escape”.

I am so glad I found this Wisconsin author. I have enjoyed her previous books, Love, Life and Lemon Pie, and The Simplicity of Cider. In fact, The Simplicity of Cider was one of my Best Reads of 2017.  The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is waiting not so patiently on my Kindle.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out more about Amy and her books 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.”

May 042018
 

Honor Kills (Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries)
Hard-Boiled Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Dark Chocolate Press LLC (May 1, 2018)
Paperback: 284 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998755748
Kindle ASIN: B07BH61872

A missing husband. A suspicious obituary. She’s not the only one hunting down a dead man’s footsteps.

As a divorcee, Angelina Bonaparte knows firsthand the lengths some men will go to escape responsibility. When a worried mother wants the private investigator to track down her missing husband, she’s eager to bring the deadbeat dad to justice. But even after she discovers the man’s obituary, she refuses to believe it until she sees the body. Tracking down the nurse who last saw him alive could be the missing puzzle piece to her client’s broken family.

But as she digs deeper, she realizes there’s something darker at play than dodging child support payments. And she may not be the only one hunting the man down. To close the case and reunite her client’s family, she must track down the missing husband without falling prey to the same ruthless hunter.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The long-awaited 3rd installment of this series is here!

Angie Bo-nah-par-tay is back and has new information on an old case. Marcy Wagner hired her six years ago to find her husband, a school teacher that just disappeared. She has been doing the usual checks with no success but now the man’s obituary has shown up in a Steven’s Point newspaper. Angie gets a copy of the death certificate and it states he was “Never Married”. She breaks all this news to Marcy gently but Angie is convinced there is more to the story. Marcy would like more answers too, What has her husband been doing for these six years? In a story that takes us from Milwaukee to Steven’s Point readers follow Angie and her assistant in a quest to get those answers. Surprisingly Angie even finds herself asking her Papa for help. Her investigation may get her killed, but to keep Marcy and her children safe she has to find the truth.

Nanci Rathbun takes us on a wild ride in Honor Kills. I love that this story takes place close to where I live and that an exciting event takes place at Holy HillRoman Catholic shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have not been there in years, it is not very handicap accessible, but the author’s descriptions brought back a rush of memories. Of course, our visits there were never even close to exciting as Angie’s were.

Angie is such a strong protagonist. She is tough as nails, cares about her clients, sometimes too much, and a woman that won’t back down even in the line of fire. She has a quick wit and loves hard. A sixty-something woman who is a fast thinker and a classy dresser. The clothing descriptions entered a T.M.I. (too much information) situation for me. We know she is in a relationship with Milwaukee Homicide Detective Ted Wukowski, who might find the descriptions delightful but for me, the unmentionables should stay unmentioned or not mentioned every time Angie changes outfits.

I found the entire story suspenseful and intriguing. Marcy’s husband Hank was not who he appeared to be and as each new piece of information was revealed we come to understand more about the man he truly is/was. We also find out that the local police are not happy with Angie’s involvement in the case or with her relationship with her detective boyfriend and they make a drastic request. How this plays out really had me full of emotions.

Well written and well plotted, Ms. Rathbun has another fantastic story on her hands. The edge of the seat moments tempered by Angie’s chaotic life that at times made me laugh out loud kept me up reading late into the night. Honor Kills is part of the Angelina Bonaparte Mystery Series but it most definitely can be read on it own.  An excellent story!

Your Great Escapes Travel Agent

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.

Nanci grew up an Army brat, living in Germany, France, and Korea, as well as several states in the U.S. After her dad retired from the service, the family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, Nanci raised her daughter and son, while working at AT&T. She never expected to move, but when her second grandchild was on the way, she wanted to be closer. One of her greatest joys is hearing her three granddaughters shout ‘Nana’ when she comes in their front door in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Nanci’s Maltipoo, Teeny, and she now live in Wellington, Colorado. No matter where she makes her home, she will always be a Packers fan.

Author Links

Website     Facebook     Twitter: @nancirathbun

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Will Return Next Week! 

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.”

Mar 092018
 

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.


Frozen Stiff (A Mattie Winston Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (September 1, 2011)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758234568
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758234575
Kindle ASIN: B008K6GNB6

 

 

Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows everyone in the charmingly small town of Sorenson, Wisconsin–except the latest body discovered in a desolate field. If a woman this attractive had moved into town, the news would have surely hit the gossip mill in record time. So who was the murdered femme fatale? Whose knife was left planted in her chest? The mystery deepens when detective Steven Hurley takes one look at the body and turns as white as the newly fallen snow… .and excuses himself from the case.

It’ll take all of Mattie’s forensic skills to unravel the increasingly bizarre clues and find the killer… before she herself becomes just another cold case in a frigid Midwest winter!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Winter in Wisconsin can be a pure delight if you like the cold and you don’t find a dead body on the side of the road with a knife plunged into her chest. That is exactly what Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston finds. Detective Steven Hurley catches the case but as soon as he gets there he says he isn’t feeling well and reassigns the case to Bob Richmond, a cranky and almost retired detective. Mattie feels slighted by Hurley as he seems to be avoiding her. That is until he calls her later, swears her to secrecy, and asks for her help. Maddie could lose her job if she agrees, but there is no way she can turn Hurley down.  She just hopes Izzy, her boss and friend can forgive her.

Maddie Winston can sure get herself into trouble. She is independent, leaps, before she thinks things through, will do anything for her friends, an even risk her life to save her ex-husband. She is a fantastic protagonist. Steve Hurley is the detective Mattie usually works with and has feelings for. In this story, she learns that a relationship with him may be impossible. Her ex-husband lives in their house right next door. She caught him in a compromising situation at the hospital with another nurse. That is why she is living in her new boss Izzy’s guest house and why she is no longer a nurse. He keeps trying to win her back but she doesn’t back down, she is moving on. All these characters and the rest of the cast is very well written.

The mystery has a nice twist this time that has Mattie still working with Hurley while working the case at the same time with Detective Richmond. I don’t want to give too much away but I really enjoyed the way the whole thing played out. Maddie even gets closer to Richmond, a man she started out despising. I liked the friendship that blossomed and some of their time together was so funny.

Humor again reigns supreme throughout this book. The story a hunter tells when he arrives in the Emergency Room almost had me rolling on the floor, even though I had heard a similar story somewhere else. The dialogues between the characters are funny. Some situations they find themselves in are funny. After just 3 books in this series, I know that when I am having a bad day, picking up a book by this author can pick me up usually within the first few pages.

While there is humor, there are serious situations too. Mattie does put herself in some very dangerous situations and sometimes her dog, Hoover follows right behind or even runs ahead. There were at least two times that had me on the edge of my seat. The author plotted out a great mystery and threw in some very clever turns. I had my “aha moment” right along with Mattie which was almost too late.

I love this series because it is set in Wisconsin and love to read about places I recognize. But I also love this series because these characters keep me as a reader on my toes.  Annelise Ryan has written a story that makes me think and keeps me entertained from beginning to end.

*Note – This book does contain some explicit language. 

Your Great Escapes Travel Agent

About the Author

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

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


I am giving away my hardcover copy of Frozen Stiff.

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something you like here and become a follower.

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*This was from my personal collection.

Feb 062018
 


Survival of the Fritters (A Deputy Donut Mystery)
Cozy MysteryMystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Kensington (January 30, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496711878
E-Book ASIN: B071HKMK38

 

 

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Set in fabulous Wisconsin this book gets this series off to a wonderful start.

We meet widow Emily Westhill and her father-in-law Tom, owners of the local donut shop lovingly named after her tabby cat Deputy Donut. When one of their regulars fails to show up to meet her knitting circle her friends get worried. By the end of the day, Emily tags along with the group to see if something happened to Georgia at home. When they find the woman dead on the floor surrounded by donuts from Emily’s shop, Emily has to draw on her dispatch training to get them through the aftermath of their discovery. The woman’s son died on the same day 5 years ago. A case that stuck with both her husband and his partner. Since her husband’s death, Emily has steered clear of his partner Brent, but this new murder has brought them back together. Emily used to be a good sounding board for her husband. Can she and Brent work together to solve this murder?

This author also wrote the Threadville Mysteries as herself, Janet Bolin. A series I absolutely loved. So when I heard she was writing a series set in my home state I was over the moon.

This new set of characters is very captivating. The idea of Emily working with her father-in-law/retired police chief is such a fun idea. Everyone knows how much police officers love their donuts. Emily and Tom work well together and the shop has a set up where Deputy Donut “Dep” can watch over the whole place without getting in trouble with the health department. He is a very special cat too, attentive, inquisitive and very important to Emily, the donut shop, and this story. Emily’s friends, Misty, a police officer and Samantha, an EMT, have Emily’s back no matter what. Emily is a wonderful protagonist. You know right away she has a caring heart, but it is a little closed off dealing with the grief of losing her husband and guilt thinking had she been working the dispatch when the call came in that maybe he would still be alive.

The mystery itself is pretty complex. The suspect pool was very small until Emily did a lot of snooping in both in the cold case and the new one. To say I was shocked at the big killer reveal would be an understatement. I really enjoyed the ending, it sure got my heart rate escalating.

As I said, the story is set in Wisconsin, but it was Emily’s Fallingbrook home and yard that were very intriguing. Her place and her neighbors are connected in a unique way, and she didn’t know it until this mystery begins.

The author writes with a delightful descriptive style that makes the story flow so well. She drew me in quickly and I was actually sad when I reached the final page. I want to know these characters better. I am excited to see what happens next in their lives. Goodbye Cruller World hits bookstores August 28 and I can’t wait. 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About the Author

Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series–cops, crime, coffee, donuts and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes where folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company.

 

Author Links

Website   Facebook   Twitter   GoodReads

Ginger has joined Killer Characters!


Written as Janet Bolin


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US 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.”

Dec 222017
 

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.

This is the last Flashback Friday of 2017, next week I will be posting my list of the
Best Books of 2017!
Flashback Friday will return January 5, 2018

I purchased this book last year at Christmas time and saved it to read this year to help me get into the Christmas spirit.

Mischief in Moonstone Series: When Rudolph was Kidnapped
Contemporary Fiction/Romance/Mystery 
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Writers Exchange E-Publishing (December 2, 2016)
Print Length: 177 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01N6CLT6M

 

 

This delightful series focuses on the humorous mystery and romantic adventures of the kind folks who live in the environs of a small village nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Along the way in the series, silkie chickens, a giant prehistoric beaver skeleton, a kidnapped reindeer, and other flora and fauna contribute to the amusing mischief and mayhem.

When her pet reindeer, Rudolph, is stolen from the live animal holiday display, first-grade teacher Crystal Hagan has a big problem on her hands. Her students fear that Christmas will be canceled. Ironically, the prime suspect is a man who lives in a mansion known as the “North Pole”. And to her shock, Peter LeBarron admits to kidnapping Rudolph and he won’t give him back without some romantic “negotiations”.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Superior, Wisconsin may feel like the North Pole, so the residents of this little town led by first-grade teacher, Crystal Hagan, do all they can to celebrate Christmas in a big way. It starts with a live nativity featuring Crystal’s own reindeer named Rudolph. It takes place in front of a huge mansion, which the children believe is the “North Pole”. But this year Rudolph is stolen from its spot in the manger.  The children are upset because Santa can’t come without Rudolph. Crystal believes the owner of the mansion has stolen her pet, and his son admits it! He promises the reindeer will be returned if his father’s demands are met. This leads to some interesting negotiations and activities including Crystal’s first graders.

This story is perfect for a Hallmark holiday movie.

Mayhem and toe-curling romance abound in this little town on chilly Lake Superior.

The characters span all generations. Crystal meets Peter while looking for her missing reindeer. She can’t believe his father, a man who used to dress up as Santa, would take her reindeer, but the man has changed over the years, and even more just over the past few weeks. Peter has left the warmth of his Arizona home to try to figure out why his dad is selling his home and his business. All the characters are realistic and with being a novella we need to get to know them fast. The author does a wonderful job of bringing them to life.

A missing reindeer is a cute little mystery. The mayhem that takes place leading up to getting him back is heartwarming and at times really funny.

The romance, again because of the length of the story also happens quickly but not easily.

Ms. DeSmet has crafted a wonderful Christmas story. It helped to get me into the Christmas spirit and may become an annual read. Seriously Hallmark…movie, I am just saying. 🙂

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Christine DeSmet author picAbout The Author
Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She’s also an award-winning scriptwriter and teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies where she directs the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. You can find her on Facebook or at her website, www.ChristineDeSmet.com.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away 1 Kindle copy sent directly from Amazon!

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
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*Book was purchased from Amazon for my private collection.

Nov 242017
 

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.

I am really trying to get caught up on this series.


Dead Loudmouth (A Loon Lake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
16th in the Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (June 1, 2016)
Paperback: 206 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1440568442
Kindle ASIN: B01ENYMB64

 

 

It’s a bright summer morning in Loon Lake when Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris is called to the scene of a horrific accident that occurred in the dead of night at a local gentleman’s club. The club is owned by one of the victims, a member of the private Deer Creek Fishing and Hunting Preserve and the scion of a wealthy Wisconsin family. When the county coroner is unavailable due to a car accident, Chief Ferris deputizes her close friend and fellow fly-fisherman, retired dentist “Doc” Osborne, to step in.

Osborne’s discovery of mysterious footprints confirms Chief Ferris’s suspicions: this is no accident; it’s murder. Leaning on Doc Osborne for his forensic and interrogation skills, Lew also hopes to enlist the help of Ray Pradt, fishing guide and expert tracker. But Ray’s time is limited as he is coaching the University of Wisconsin’s fishing team in a muskie fishing tournament. Things get complicated when Doc Osborne’s granddaughter disappears on the first day of the tournament. Sunny June days turn dark as a desperate search ensues.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have enjoyed this series from the beginning.

This time Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris is called to a gentleman’s club for two dead bodies. With the regular coroner is involved in a car accident on the way to the scene, Lew calls in “Doc” Osborne to look over the situation to determine if it was a freak accident or murder that left two people dead. She also calls in expert tracker, Ray Pradt, to advise on the case. Ray only has about an hour to scan the scene as he is coaching a team from the University of Wisconsin in a fishing tournament. He has even enlisted “Doc”‘s 11 year-old granddaughter to help with the tackle and food.

Lew is busy investigating the two deaths when she gets a frantic call that “Doc”‘s granddaughter is missing and so is one of Ray’s kayaks. Never a dull moment in Loon Lake which leaves very little time for fly fishing.

Ms. Houston’s love for fishing and the great outdoors again sings throughout story. The details unfold effortlessly and bring the rivers and forests to life. It would be so relaxing and calm if it wasn’t for those darn dead people. 🙂 She described the scene in the gentleman’s club as well, painting a picture of death I don’t think I will soon forget. A truly crazy way to die.

The main characters have become like friends over the series. For some reason I had in my head that Ray was older but that is neither here nor there. The are wonderfully real with every day issues in addition to the main plot. I liked getting to know Mason, Dr. Osborne’s granddaughter and that at just 11 years old she loves to fish with her grandpa, just like I did when I was that age. It was so easy to picture her in those waders. She has a harrowing experience that could change the way she feels but with the family she has to support her she seems to be alright.

The plot was crisp, with many suspects, due to some illegal shenanigans happening at the club. I was kept guessing right up until the end. Time passes quickly and so does the turning of the pages. It clearly portrays a small town that needs to call in a crime lab from a larger town to help them work the case. Of course the guy loves to fly fish so he is happy to help them out.

Another terrific escape from this author, just a few actual hours from home.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 

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

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away my copy!
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Contest Will End December 8, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
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Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

This book was from my private collection.

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