Jun 132019
 

A Crafter Hooks a Killer:
A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

 

About the Book


A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Crooked Lane Books (June 11, 2019)
Hardcover 274 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643850121
ISBN-13: 978-1643850122
Digital ASIN: B07MGS1XDW

Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?

Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.

Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.

Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

We are back in Heartsford, Wisconsin, and it’s summertime. Sammy Kane is planning for a big event at Community Craft. A book signing with Jane Johnson, The Queen of Crafts. Jane is also writing a new book that will include one chapter about Community Craft and its original owner, Sammy’s best friend, Kate Allen.

The author surprises Sammy by arriving in town early and requesting a private meeting with her. They agree to meet on a bench by the river. Sammy arrives a short time after Jane, but she is waaayyyy too late. The author is dead and holding her last book. The killer has scratched a deadly message too, “THE END” on the book.  Sammy knows the author wanted to talk to her about Kate and the store, but why would anyone kill her over that?

The death brings Sammy back together with Detective Liam Nash which seems to make them both very happy. But Liam tells her to let him handle the case.  There is no way Sammy can do that. This case has something to do with Kate and she can’t just back away. She quickly assembles the S.H.E. team (Sammy, her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie) to help her untangle the clues. Together they are going to chain the information together to find the killer and get to the truth they all seek.

___

I was so excited to get back to Heartsford. I really enjoy the part the community plays in Holly Quinn’s stories. This time when the murder ruins Sammy’s big plans, she starts to plan another event that will benefit the town.

The core characters in this series are strong and realistic. Sammy’s mother gets on my nerves a little bit but in ways reminds me of my own mother in certain ways. I was surprised that the relationship between Sammy and Liam didn’t progress at all, while Heidi and Officer Tim’s relationship is progressing nicely. Ellie is taking advantage of her parents being in town to get a little bit of “me time” while they babysit their grandson Tyler. Even if that “me time” means manning the store so Sammy can investigate. When Ellie can’t step in employee/crafter/friend Deborah takes over and keeps the shop running.  Of course, Sammy’s lovable golden retriever returns. That dog just steals my heart. Like my dogs, Bara is usually by Sammy’s side or very close by.

I really appreciate the way Ms. Quinn has laid out this mystery. She gives her protagonist a gift of “seeking and finding the truth” and gives us a detective that is man enough to know her information is important. He does his best to rein her in and keep her safe at the same time but Sammy is pretty headstrong. She may have her S.H.E. team to help, but she and Liam make a good team too.

The plot is full of twists, and I loved the way the author crocheted everything together but I did figure this one out before Sammy. Even with that, I was entertained reading and following along as all the clues fell into place right up to the exciting ending. Holding back saying more but Sammy rocked!

Fun characters, a great theme, not 1 but 2 mysteries all set in my neck of the woods. Books like this one are what first pulled me into the cozy mystery genre. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

Read my review of A Crafter Knits A ClueHere

 

About Author Holly Quinn

Holly Quinn has published two stand-alone fiction novels in another persona. She graduated from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in business and a minor in marketing. This is her second Handcrafted mystery. Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com

Praise for A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery
by Holly Quinn

This one was a quick read for me – once I got started it was very hard to put down!
~The Book’s the Thing

A Crafter Hooks a Killer has three curious ladies, two complex crimes, one disgruntled detective and a delightful doggie.
~The Avid Reader

Author Links – Website – Facebook – GoodReads 

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

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Jun 122019
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am pleased to share the latest book in this long-running Wisconsin series!


Dead Big Dawg (A Loon Lake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
19th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Gallery Books (June 11, 2019)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 1440598835
ISBN-13: 978-1440598838
Kindle ASIN: B01MRACFUA

When the bodies of a wealthy Chicago industrialist and his wife are discovered in their summer home at the same time that a local lawyer disappears, life becomes complicated for Loon Lake Chief of Police Lew Ferris.

Relying on the forensic dental expertise of her close friend and acting coroner, Doc Osborne, Lew soon finds the investigations are even more complicated than she thought when a rarely used computer belonging to a local sawmill operation is taken over by foreign hackers. Add to that the family issues facing both Lew and Doc, and this Northwoods summer becomes both hot and dangerous.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Another trip north to Loon Lake and again Doc and Lew have their hands full. First,  with their grandchildren, especially when they disappear and are found a short time later at a neighboring farm. They also find agents from the FBI Cyber Security Team. Russian Hackers have worked their way into the Northwoods unbeknownst to the owners of the farm and the owners of an old computer they use for recordkeeping.

Then, in the middle of the night Chief of Police Lew Ferris is alerted to a double fatality. A businessman and his wife from Illinois in their summer home. At first, thought to be a murder/suicide, Lew doesn’t think so and calls in the “Wausau Boys” and Ray Pradt to work the scene. Together they all will try to figure out what really happened and why.

On the homefront, Doc’s daughter is home for a visit and she has brought along her new boyfriend and runs into a high school classmate.

Wisconsin is a place where many bigwigs from the Chicago area have their summer homes so it was not surprising that a couple from there are our victims this time. The question is was the killer from the area or did trouble follow them over the border.

___

The core characters in this series have become friends after 19 books. I love that the children and grandchildren again are part of the story. That being said, the author gives enough background info to read this or any of the books in this series on its own. The characters are well developed and genuine, some have the quirky traits fans of this genre look for. There are also plenty of suspects to keep readers guessing.

The later books in this series run about 200 pages and Victoria Houston packs them full. She tangles the main plot and subplots together with believable dialogue and wonderful descriptions of the area. What I love best is that the characters always have time to do a little fly-fishing. They find a certain amount of peace on the water and sometimes that is when a crucial clue falls into place.

The Loon Lake Mysteries are comfortable stories with the perfect amount of suspense and drama. Lew, Doc, and Ray are good people and true friends. Strong, smart, people who work and play well together. The romantic relationship between Doc and Lew is what I would call relaxed. They each know what they want and understand each other so well. The younger Ray is a very special guy, still playing the field and that usually works for him. Most people are amazed by the way women just seem to fall for him.  It does bring some great humor to each story.

I have enjoyed each story in this series. Dead Big Dawg was a quick read that was fun and entertaining. I  look forward to my next trip north.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Victoria Houston visit her 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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May 012019
 

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am so happy so welcome Dena Haggerty to Escape With Dollycas today with a Character Guest Post!

Things I’ve learned from moving and living in Wisconsin
By Pru from Hide Not Seek

 

Moving is always a daunting task. Moving halfway across the country to a state you’ve never even visited? Downright intimidating. For reasons I won’t go into here, I recently moved to Wisconsin from a place I can’t reveal. No, seriously, I can’t. It’s too dangerous. I’m in my mid-thirties, I thought I’d experienced life, knew lots of things. Well, let me tell you, I knew nothing – nothing! – about living in a cold weather climate. Here are some of the things I’ve “discovered” since moving to Wisconsin:

1. Did someone say snow? And not just a little bit either. Things don’t shut down for a bit of snow in Wisconsin. In fact, it doesn’t seem as if things shut down for snow here – ever. They just deal with it. No matter if it’s two feet of the white stuff on the ground.rong>

2. Windchill is really a thing. Theoretically, I knew what windchill was. I’ve seen those weather station shows where they say it’s twenty degrees out but ‘due to the windchill,’ it feels like zero. I thought those weather forecasters were bonkers. Having spent a few of the winter months in Wisconsin, I can now tell you – windchill is the real deal.

3. Ice storms happen. I thought ice storms were something fantasy writers had made up. A storm made of ice? Where ice literally falls from the sky? Nope, I thought, that’s obviously thought up by a fantasy writer. I was wrong.

Where I’m from (which is not a fantasy location but somewhere I can’t reveal), if there’s even a tiny bit of ice or snow, everything shuts down. Imagine my surprise when the world kept on going in Milwaukee after a foot of snow fell. On top of all that, they drive on the snow! Sure, there are snow plows out there getting rid of piles of snow, but they don’t – can’t – clear the roads entirely. The plow goes through, picks up a bunch of snow, and drops a bunch of sand. Yes, sand. My poor car.

This last one doesn’t have anything to do with the Wisconsin weather, but you can’t mention Wisconsin without talking about cheese. I’ve seen a Packers football game. I know Wisconsinites pride themselves on being cheese heads. I did not know that cheese is sacred and everywhere. Fried cheese curds? Yep, it’s a thing. Good thing I love cheese.

Moving to Wisconsin was a revelation. I just hope I can stay as it seems my troubles have followed me halfway across the continent.

Welcome to Wisconsin Pru! Speaking of weather in Wisconsin – Did you enjoy this past week where we had Spring, Summer, and Winter weather all in the same week? This Cheesehead is so happy you could visit today!! 

 

About the Book


Hide Not Seek (The Not So Reluctant Detectives)
Cozy Mystery/Romance/Humor
3rd in Series
Independently Published (April 18, 2019)
Print Length: 183 pages
ASIN: B07NYSCT6W

I know who you really are.

Pru has a secret, which she has no plans to reveal – ever. But after a woman is murdered and all clues point to her, she has no choice but to disclose her true identity. When her revelations help thwart the killer’s plan to frame Pru for the murder, the killer begins stalking her. With each note he sends, he gets closer. The police are stumped. Pru wants to run away. She really, really wants to run, but Ajax has found the woman of his dreams and he’s not letting her go anywhere. He can be patient. In the meantime, he’ll protect her with his life. Pru isn’t feeling very patient, and her friends, Mel and Terri, are definitely not willing to wait until the police uncover who the stalker is. The three friends take matters into their own hands and jump headfirst into the investigation.

Will Pru and her friends uncover her stalker before he turns his violence on Pru?

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic before returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where, in between tennis matches and failing to save the world, I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Hide Not Seek is my fifteenth novel.

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Feb 082019
 

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.

Technically, this book was released last year but it was not screaming at me from my TBR shelf. It was screaming at me from Amazon and then my email inbox. The author had sent me a copy for review and I couldn’t get it to load on my Kindle. We recently straightened that out and I wanted to read/review it asap so I scheduled it for today.  😉


A Stew to a Kill (A Callie’s Kitchen Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Independently published (October 11, 2018)
Paperback: 267 pages
ISBN-10: 1724191233
ISBN-13: 978-1724191236
Kindle ASIN: B07H74PRZX

The Halloween season is serving up more tricks than treats for thirty-something Greek-American foodie and business owner Calliope “Callie” Costas.

When a new employee at a neighboring business, Tea for Two, is found dead, Callie is drawn into a murky brew of motives and murder suspects. It turns out that the seemingly mild-mannered victim might have a few skeletons in his closet. What’s more, the timing of the murder, just a day before Crystal Bay’s first annual Halloween Walk, has threatened to derail the town’s festive fall events, including a Halloween Gala benefiting the local food pantry, one of Callie’s favorite causes.

Callie’s already full plate is set to overflowing with the return of an old boyfriend who has his eye on developing a mall that will compete with and possibly destroy Crystal Bay’s small business scene. Could there be a tie between the mall and the murder?

Somebody has been stewing. Will Callie help find the unsavory killer before things reach the boiling point?

Includes delicious recipes from Callie’s Kitchen!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Plans are underway for Crystal Bay’s first Halloween Walk. All sorts of fun activities are planned and they will wrap up with a huge gala all to support the local food pantry. The shop owners are excited to participate and have placed unique skeletons in their businesses for a #selfie challenge for prizes to bring more customers in. Callie has her hands full with Callie’s Kitchen, but she is also helping with the gala. Having an ex-boyfriend show up touting the idea of a shopping mall on the outskirts of town is the last thing she needed. But the entire town is thrown for a loop when Henry, who works at Tea for Two across the street is murdered. The tragic death is sure to dampen the festivities especially when the police start looking at the shop owners as suspects. With Sands out of the country, Callie tries to stay out of the investigation but again finds herself right in the middle of another murder case.

This is another delightful cozy mystery from Jenny Kales.

Callie is on her own this time. Detective Sands is away, Sam is buried in work, Hugh and Raine are expecting a baby. Her father steps in to help with 11-year-old Olivia when needed, but he and his lady friend seem to be getting serious. The wonderful thing about these characters is that they are relatable and believable. The Greek heritage shines within the pages. I love the relationship Callie has with her dad and how she has taken what he started and ran with it.

The mystery was intriguing. Henry was a quiet man and no one knew much about his past. Callie’s ex Ben is in town pushing hard for a new mall that scares all the business owners. Can the murder and the mall be connected? When another person is attacked more questions arise? The officer in charge of the case has not impressed Callie or the other merchants. I understood Callie’s need to keep asking questions and was really surprised when the real culprit was revealed. Ms. Kales really twisted my thinking with some great red herrings.

Of course, I love the Wisconsin setting, and it is truly portrayed. All the nuances and places felt like home. The author really brings out the small town life of Crystal Bay.

The bonus is the authentic Greek recipes at the end of the story. My mouth was watering throughout the whole book. The stews, the cookies, everything made in Callie’s Kitchen sounded good to me.

A terrific addition to this series!

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About the Author

Sign up for a FREE author newsletter filled with author news like upcoming releases and author events, exclusive recipes, giveaways, price events, author interviews and more: http://tinyurl.com/huv5pof

Jenny Kales is the author of The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, featuring Greek-American Calliope Costas, feisty food business owner and amateur sleuth, who lives in a scenic Wisconsin town with colorful characters — and a high murder rate! Each book contains several delicious recipes, both Greek and American.

ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK is the debut book in the series, followed by SPICED AND ICED (A Christmas cozy mystery), SECRETS AND PIES, and a NEW BOXED SET. The Callie’s Kitchen Cozy Mystery Series Boxed Set, which includes Books 1 – 3, is now available and free to read on Kindle Unlimited!

LATEST RELEASE: A STEW TO A KILL, Book 4 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series! This Halloween mystery is available for the Kindle and in paperback.

Jenny is an avid reader, cook, and baker and she’s addicted to reading and mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or Acorn TV. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier. She’s hard at work on additional writing projects including more Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries and a new series.

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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 262019
 

Picture Not Perfect (The Not So Reluctant Detectives)
by D.E. Haggerty

I am excited to welcome Dena Haggerty back to Escape With Dollycas today!

How the cover for Picture Not Perfect Was Born

by D.E. Haggerty

 

As Picture Not Perfect is book 2 of the Not So Reluctant Detectives series, I thought the cover would be a snap to develop. In order to ensure readers recognize individual books in a series, the covers for each book in the series should be consistent. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. The development started out well enough. We kept the background the same as the previous book Finders, Not Keepers. We also re-used the library card in the corner, which features my name and the series name. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for a cover.

The style for the title itself was easy. Well, at least it was easy after I finally figured out what to name the book. Naming novels is not easy, let me tell you. But that’s a story for a different day. I wanted to use a font that hinted towards the premise of the book and was reminiscent of the title – namely that a picture isn’t always correctly (aka perfectly) telling a story. I started researching fonts that resemble shattering. Within a few moments, I found the shattering glass font used on the cover. Luckily, my designer liked it as well.

So now I had the title, the background, and my name with the series name. Those elements a cover does not make. Unfortunately. At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m this deeply involved in designing the cover. Isn’t that what cover designers are for? Yeah, sure, if you can afford one. My husband, who has self-taught himself graphic design, is the one who actually puts my thoughts into an actual cover. And while he’s awesome at putting my ideas onto paper …er… computer file, coming up with a conceptual design is not his area of expertise. Although to be completely honest, he’s willing to take a stab at it. I’m the one who may be a tiny bit hesitant.

I went back to the actual novel itself as I feel it’s important for the cover to hint at what the book is about (not just some hot guy to drool over). The heroine of Picture Not Perfect is harassed by the police as they believe she was stalked by the murder victim. The theme of stalking comes back again and again in the novel. A-ha, I thought, I can incorporate something about stalking in the cover. My excitement lagged after spending hours going through stock photos of stalking pictures. I couldn’t find what I wanted, but my idea was now firmly developed. I wanted a picture of my heroine, Melanie, being stalked. This is when my designed really shined. He took my idea and developed it into a cover, which was a relief as I was about to tear my hair out!

And that’s how the cover for Picture Not Perfect came to life.

~D. E. Haggerty

Thank you Dena for visiting today. 

Keep reading to find out more about Picture Not Perfect.

 

About the Book

 

Picture Not Perfect (The Not So Reluctant Detectives)
Cozy Mystery/Romance/Humor
2nd in Series
Self Published (January 21, 2019)
Print Length: 230 pages
ASIN: B07KG6ZH33

A picture tells a story. But is it the truth?

When the police find pictures of Melanie hanging up at her murdered colleague’s house, they’re convinced he was stalking her. Maybe she even killed him. Melanie was not being stalked! And she certainly didn’t kill her supposed stalker – as if. But Mel – always up for a bit of drama – jumps at the chance to go search for the real killer. When Mel’s ex-boyfriend, Owen, discovers her plans, he pulls out all the stops to ensure she’s safe and to win her back. No matter what happens with the murder investigation, he’s not letting her go. With the police setting their sights on Mel, he may need to jeopardize his own career on the police force to protect her.

Will Mel find the real killer before the detectives arrest her for murder?

Praise for Picture Not Perfect (The Not So Reluctant Detectives)
by D.E. Haggerty

Picture Not Perfect was a page-turner. I couldn’t help but enjoy the second chance at love
~My Reading Journeys

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic before returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where, in between tennis matches and failing to save the world, I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Picture Not Perfect is my fourteenth novel.

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#FlashbackFriday – Mischief in Moonstone Series: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone by Christine DeSmet #Review / #Giveaway

 2018 Reviews, E-Book Challenge, Giveaways, TBR Pile Challenge, Wisconsin Author, Wisconsin Setting  Comments Off on #FlashbackFriday – Mischief in Moonstone Series: Misbehavin’ in Moonstone by Christine DeSmet #Review / #Giveaway
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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 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!

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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.

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If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
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Contest Will End October 24, 2018, 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

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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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!

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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.”

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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.”

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