Posted in Reviews 2014 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Review – Dead Deceiver by Victoria Houston

dead deceiverDead Deceiver
(Loon Lake Mystery)

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Tyrus Books; Reprint edition (May 30, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1440582226
E-Book File Size: 889 KB
ASIN: B005307N5W


It’s late January in Loon Lake and bodies abound…

While the town of Loon Lake is hosting an International Ice Fishing Festival, Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris and her limited team are busy with the usual headaches and then some. Meanwhile, Doc Osborne is busy studying fly-casting videos in an effort to impress Lew come spring.

But a panicked call from Rob Beltner leads to a sad discovery: his wife, Kathy, is dead of a gunshot wound. Lew barely begins to investigate the shooting before she’s sidetracked by the imposing figure of Patience Schumacher, president of Wheedon Technical College. Patience is certain she’s being stalked, and as Lew investigates, the uncanny coincidences accumulate like snow on the frozen, deadly surface of Loon Lake…

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This has been one of my favorites series but the last one, Dead Renegade was not the author’s best and I left this one on the shelf. When I needed just one more book to complete by Wisconsin Author/Setting I picked it up and I so glad I did. I don’t know much about fly fishing but I sure do like reading about it. My grandfather was quite a fisherman and stories like this bring forth great memories.

I love Lew, Doc Osborne, and Ray Pradt. In this installment they are fighting the elements of a Wisconsin winter to find who killed a woman out snowshoeing. When she fails to return home her husband calls the police and they start a search that ends with the worst possible outcome.

I like the relaxed relationship between Lew and Osbourne. They are comfortable with each other and the lives they are leading. Lew’s daughter returns to Loon Lake to talk things over with her mom. Her marriage is falling apart and she needs advice and a little perspective as she moves toward a divorce.

There is also a fishing tournament taking place and a reality show is casting and Ray hopes he is chosen for the show.

Houston is back and while there is not as much fishing in this installment due to it be set in winter the mystery is more of what I expect from this author. The characters are still growing and the were a few suspenseful moments as the plot and subplot converged and the killer was revealed.

The funny thing is that is now December in Wisconsin and we don’t have any snow. We had a very green Christmas and as I type this it is 45 degrees outside. Reading about the snowy countrysides was great for me and required no shoveling on my part.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

*This book was from my private collection.

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2014 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Cozy Wednesday with Kathleen Ernst – Author of Tradition of Deceit – Giveaway too!

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am always excited when Kathleen Ernst drops by for a visit. Her character Chloe Ellefson doesn’t live too far away from me. I love reading stories about places I have actually visited.

Old Mill-50Murder Most Midwestern
Kathleen Ernst

You may have heard of “Midwestern Nice.” It’s real. I’ve met lots of really nice people since moving to Wisconsin in 1982.

That said, I’m finding that the Midwest provides some awesome settings for murder mysteries.

As a former museum curator, one of my goals for the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series involves introducing readers to special places. The first four books in the series showcased a huge open air museum called Old World Wisconsin, the Swiss-American community of New Glarus, Lake Michigan’s oldest lighthouse, and Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Iowa.

Old Mill-139And my new book, Tradition of Deceit, features two fascinating settings. The book is set in 1983, when the Minnesota Historical Society’s fabulous Mill City Museum was only a dream. Chloe, my protagonist, visits to help create an interpretive plan for the envisioned site. Imagine an enormous abandoned flour mill full of old equipment—a magnet for kids craving adventure, homeless citizens, and people wanting to stay out of sight. It’s spooky. And it provides lots of opportunities for murder.

Tradition of DeceitIt’s also fascinating. The Washburn A Mill was the world’s largest flour mill when it was completed in 1874. For the first time in history, the production of a basic food item was industrialized. And I’m willing to bet that the mill has touched your life directly. The Washburn A Mill gave us Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker cookbooks. After years of growth and mergers, General Mills became owner.

Meanwhile Roelke McKenna, Chloe’s significant other, is drawn into a murder investigation in Milwaukee’s Old South Side neighborhood. The area is densely populated and culturally rich, home to many Polish-American families. They built the magnificent Basilica of St. Josaphat, and created a lovely urban park honoring a famous Polish general. Right down the street is a cemetery so old and significant that it’s on the Register of Historic Places.

It was great fun to write a book that entwines the industrial and cultural heritage of two cities, in two states. In the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, the past is always present!

Someone asked me recently if I would ever set a Chloe book at a “major” historic site like Colonial Williamsburg or Plimoth Plantation. Perhaps one day, but for now, I’m having too much fun exploring historic sites in my own regional neighborhood. Chloe will remain employed at Old World Wisconsin, although some mysteries will take her across state lines.

I try hard to make the sites and museums that Chloe explores real and essential to the plot. My website offers lots of resources to help readers explore the places featured in each book, including photographs, interactive maps, and tour guides. I’m delighted when readers tell me that reading one of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries inspired them to visit the relevant site.

Has a book ever prompted you to make a trip? What are some of your favorite historic places? I’m taking notes!


About Kathleen Ernst

Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst’s thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

. Learn more at,, or

Tradition of DeceitTradition of Deceit
(A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)

5th Book in Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by MIDNIGHT INK (November 8, 2014)
Trade Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738740782
E-Book File Size: 3170 KB


Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe’s attention turns from milling to murder.

Back in Milwaukee, Chloe’s love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Wow, this was such a fascinating read I feel as if I devoured it.

What seems as a ordinary date turns Chloe’s and Roelke’s lives and relationship inside out and upside down. They attend the wedding of one a Roelke’s cop buddies and Chloe just feels like she doesn’t fit in. She takes off the next day to help a friend in Minneapolis questioning her whole relationship with Roelke. Then Roelke gets a phone call telling him his friend and former partner was shot and killed while on duty. He throws himself into the investigation and keeps at it even when he is told to back off. Chloe barely gets into Minneapolis and she gets wrapped up in a murder investigation herself. She really could use Roelke’s help but after the death of his friend he has basically shut her out of his life. It seems “deceit” is everywhere.

Ernst intricately meshes these stories together along with a story from the past that drew me right in. It was not only the murder mysteries that captivated me but the secrets of our main characters as well. We really get to know more about Roelke and Chloe has to face the reality of being in love with a police officer. The story from the past gives us a look back at immigrants that had come to the area in hopes of a better life. The main story lines also look at the homeless and what they endure. She also shines a light on domestic violence.

The main part of the story takes place in the early 1980’s so there are no cell phones or internet which adds its own dynamic to the story. Research and crime investigation is done with old fashioned footwork and checking out books and written documents. Police officers don’t have radios hooked to their collars and need to check in via call stations while they are out “walking their beat” and landlines are the way to get in touch with your family and friends, no texting, emails or quick calls. Cases are not solved quickly as all the investigative technology we now take for granted has even been invented yet. The research Chloe is helping with is also done with document research and stories that have been told and retold over the years.

I think this is the best book so far in this series. The characters continue to grow and evolve and the settings were interesting and the topics are still relevant today as the United States looks at immigration reform and the plight of the homeless is still a major problem today. Domestic violence has been around forever and we see that in that story here as well. Ernst presents all topics in a fictional way that while entertaining to read also makes you think.  We learn a little history along the way too.

This definitely deserves more than 5 stars!


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

From Kathleen Ernst

I’m grateful to Dollycas for giving me the opportunity to celebrate publication of Tradition of Deceit: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery here on Escape with Dollycas Into A Good Book. And I’m grateful to readers! Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of my Chloe mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Heritage of Darkness, or Tradition of Deceit.

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

Contest Will End December 3, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Leave A Comment Below and fill out this form so we can notify you of your win and send you your prize!

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

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Cruisin Thru Cozies Reviews 2014 What An Animal Reading Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting You Read How Many Books Challenge

Review: Beewitched by Hannah Reed

(A Queen Bee Mystery)

5th in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425261613
E-Book File Size: 2048 KB


Welcome to Moraine, Wisconsin. Home of Story Fischer’s market, The Wild Clover, and the Country Delight Farm. Tourists flock to the area for apple cider, caramel apples, Story’s honey products and the Country Delight Farm’s corn maze.

There is also a new resident moving to town. Dyanna Crane has moved in next door to Story and Hunter. She seems nice enough but when the neighbors find out she is a witch and the rest of her coven arrives to work their magic to protect Dyanna’s new home from evil spirits things start to spiral out of control. Police Chief Johnny Jay shows up to shut the ritual down and send the witches on their way not knowing they just happen to be camping out at the Country Delight Farm. In the morning one of the witches is found dead in the corn maze. Evil is definitely lurking and Story is ready to comb through all the clues to catch the killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I was totally Beewitched by this story.

There was so much going on. In addition to the witch invasion Story’s mom is getting married and is a total Bridezilla. She has kept Story out of any of the planning. Her other daughter, Holly, is her wedding planner and Story’s only job is show up at the wedding and wear the hideous dress her mother has picked out for the bridesmaids. While this truly has hurt Story’s feeling she has enough on her plate to keep her busy. Business at the store has been good. Her mother has been to busy with wedding plans to create her usual havoc there. Then there all these witches in town. Even one named Tabitha. Both Hunter and Johnny Jay tell Story to keep her nose out of the investigation but she just can’t and she does have a way of getting information out of people.

Hannah Reed has written a wonderful story. The fact that this fictional town is almost in my backyard just sweetens the mystery. References to actual places always makes me smile. The characters could be my neighbors. Even P.P. Patty. Oh my word, she was so over the top in this story. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. You will not believe what she does!!

Reasons to read Hannah Reed Mysteries:

  • Awesome characters
  • Wonderful setting
  • Smart and witty dialogue
  • Captivating mystery
  • Fantastic humor
  • Fun and entertaining

You cannot go wrong with any of her stories. She is the Queen Bee of Cozy Mysteries!!!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Find out all about Hannah Reed on her webpage here.

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

Posted in Just For Fun Challenge Wisconsin Setting

Just For Fun Challenge

I have been busy catching up on my 2013 Just For Fun Challenge.
November was a catch up month so I read two books this month.

Grounds for Murder (A Maggy Thorsen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Set in Wisconsin
File Size: 348 KB
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: NYLA (March 11, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

A sharp and amusing mystery from a talented writer – Set in Milwaukee at a scaldingly competitive trade show for the coffee industry, events reach a head when coffeehouse-owner Maggy Thorsen discovers a body under a table at the conference centre. As the reluctant conference coordinator and a potential suspect Maggy must track the murderer, save her coffeehouse, and hopefully put some froth in her love life . . .


miss julia comes to the rescue
Miss Julia to the Rescue: A Novel
13th in Series
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (April 3, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0670023388
ISBN-13: 978-0670023387

Can Miss Julia spring J. D. Pickens from a sheriff’s clutches and investigate a cult — plus keep up appearances as a proper Southern lady? Miss Julia simply can’t abide sitting idle. With young Lloyd moving out and husband Sam off to the Holy Land for two weeks, she’s feeling restless already. Maybe it’s time for that overdue home makeover. But before she can pick a color scheme, Miss Julia must race to the rescue of Hazel Marie’s new husband. J.D. has gone missing while on his latest private investigation job, and West Virginia police have detained an injured man fitting his description.

Both were truly fun reads! and because they were read JUST FOR FUN there is no pressure of a review, just pure enjoyment.

Have you been part of the 2013 Just For Fun Challenge?
We are in the home stretch and
Just For Fun 2014 Sign Ups Will Start Soon!!

just for fun 2014It will again be hosted on GoodReads!

More Details Coming Soon!!

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Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2013 Wisconsin Setting

Cozy Wednesday with Author Laura Alden (Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!
I love that this series is set in Wisconsin!!
Just a hop, skip and jump from my home town!
I am thrilled to have Laura drop by for a visit!!!

laura aldenOne of the things people often ask me is: where do I get the ideas for my books?

The evolution of a book is an odd thing, but most of the time I have an answer for this question. As in, the idea came to me after hearing a news report about something similar. Or the idea popped into my tiny little brain when my husband was talking about a baseball game he’d watched the previous night. Or I was doing some free writing and one thought led to another and then another, and then bingo! the story idea was born.

curse of the ptaFor Curse of the PTA, however, the answer is completely different. Because…well…I honestly have no idea where the idea came from. None whatsoever. I don’t remember getting the idea. I don’t remember figuring out who the victim was going to be and I don’t remember how I figured out the killer’s identity. I don’t remember anything about setting up the murder and I don’t remember learning the why of it all.

Sad, isn’t it? To think that I’ve forgotten the origins of a book that occupied months of my time is more than a little disconcerting.

But there are bits that I do remember. For instance, there’s a crucial subplot that I couldn’t make work for beans. The motivation I’d given the character was weak and, really, just plain didn’t make sense. It took days of free writing and one critical conversation with my husband to have it gel into something sensible. (If you read the book, please note the dedication. He deserves it, without a doubt.)

And the Big Scene at the end was a big muddle until I begged some writer friends for suggestions. One of their suggestions worked like a charm – “How about adding another character to the scene?” – and everything suddenly started working.

Yes, the evolution of a book is an odd thing, and in my experience, no two books take the same path. Of course, there are some common elements to all the books I write. Such as? Well…there’s the First Flush. These are the heady days when I start a manuscript. The whole thing is fresh and new and I haven’t messed anything up. This is when I know, just know, that this will be the book that will sell zillions of copies and will enable me to quit my day job and write full time.


Sadly, the First Flush doesn’t last forever, and somewhere around the middle the Deadly Doldrums set in. These are the days that I know, just know, that this is the book that will end my writing career. This is when I’m sure that everything I’ve written is complete dreck. This is when I know, without a doubt, that the entire book is junk and that my editor will make me toss it out and start all over again.

(This is also when it’s very, very nice to have writer friends who understand about this phase of a book.)

At some point, I write myself out of the Deadly Doldrums and next thing you know, it’s time for the Exciting Endings. These are the scenes the whole book has been aiming toward, the scenes where the Bad Guy (or Bad Girl) is about to get his (or her) just desserts. It’s during the Exciting Endings phase that I forget to eat and sleep, and these are the days when I know, just know, that writing is the best job in the world.

Unfortunately, right on the heels of the Exciting Endings phase is the Wretched Wrap-up. This is the last chapter or two, the chapters where I have to tie everything together, where all the tricky ends of the narrative are knitted together to make a solid and satisfying ending.

This phase makes me extremely nervous. Why? Well, it takes me roughly four months to write a first draft and odds are good that I’ve forgotten all sorts of things that I wrote into the book three months previously.

Not only that, but when I’m done with the Wretched Wrap-up, I’ll be done with the first draft. I’ll be done writing. I’ll be done with those characters and will have to say an odd sort of good-bye. Sure, I’ll see them again during the revisions, but that’s a more distant relationship, one in which I’m merely tweaking at their personalities, not diving down deep into their thoughts and feelings and memories.

So the wrap-up makes me feel a little wretched in a number of ways. Saying good-bye is rarely easy, even to fictional characters.

Then again, when a writer says good-bye to a set of characters, it means only one thing. Another set of characters is just around the bend, patiently waiting their turn to get into a book, waiting for their own evolution.


About This Author
Laura Alden grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laura and her husband share their house with two very strange cats. When Laura isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing. Laura’s debut novel, “Murder at the PTA” was an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel. Her fourth book, “Curse of the PTA,” was released in April 2013.

To find out more about Laura visit her webpage here.




curse of the pta

Curse of the PTA
3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (April 2, 2013)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451415066
E-Book File Size: 711 KB

Curse of the PTA (Beth Kennedy #4)

As the new PTA president, Beth Kennedy wants to make a difference in the lives of the students and faculty at Tarver Elementary. But with a killer on the loose, staying alive is the first order of business…

Beth’s fantastic Story Project, pairing senior citizens from the nursing home with elementary kids, ended up with the PTA publishing a book with the kids retelling the stories they heard from the seniors and it was a huge success. So successful the PTA may want to think about investing some of the money until they can decide how to spend it.  Beth has invited Dennis Halpern, a local financial consultant, to their meeting to inform them about their options.  Before he can even start to give his presentation different members start lobbying for how they think the money should be spent. Beth does her best to regain control of the meeting and calls for a short break.  During the recess Dennis’s ideas are overruled before he even gets to share them. Someone decided to expel him permanently! Right there in the school!

With the doors to the building unlocked, virtually anyone could have done the deed. And they soon discover that Dennis had plenty of secrets. Now locals are whispering that the PTA is cursed, and it’s up to Beth to catch the killer before she gets cashed out.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Beth has her hands full as president of the PTA. Claudia is doing everything she can to make sure nothing runs smoothly. But Beth is resolved to show she can do this job, even if she has to be on every sub-committee to get things done. And now she has a murderer to catch.

What makes these cozies a success are that we all know someone exactly like these characters. We all have a friend like Marina, a senior we care about like Flossie, and one we have to care about because they are like family like Auntie May. We all know troublemakers like Claudia, and we shop at stores like Beth’s Bookstore. I do wish I had a “problem” like Summer’s. The stories are about small town life with problems like a murder we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Thankfully Beth can fit the clues together to help Gus catch the culprit even though he prefers she would keep her nose out of his police work.

Guns are a hot topic now in the U.S., guns in schools even hotter. I am sure Tarver Elementary will have a whole new set of rules by the next installment of this series.

This one will keep you guessing. The people of Rynwood sure keep more than their share of secrets. Kudos Laura! This is a wonderful story!!
a perfect escape

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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

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 Laura for 5 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 May 8, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.


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

Posted in E-Book Challenge Reviews 2013 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Review: Murder in Death’s Door County by Elizabeth Rose

door county

Murder in Death’s Door County
(An Annie Malone Cozy Mystery)

First in Series
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: J.M. Schertz
E-Book File Size: 396 KB

Murder in Death's Door County

Annie has a job she hates but moonlights as a ghostwriter and she loves that job. Unfortuately she doesn’t make enough to pay the bills. When she gets an offer to ghost write a book for a client her editor warns her is a challenge she has a decision to make. The money offered is higher than she ever imagined and it would allow her to quit her day job. The one stipulation is that she must move to Door County to work with the client. Decision made, she quits her job, packs a bag and heads to The Lighthouse Inn hoping she hasn’t made a huge mistake.

Just a few days after she arrives her editor comes for a visit and within hours he is found dead in his room at the inn and Annie becomes the prime suspect. With the help of her new Door County friends Annie will try to find the killer before she finds herself at Death’s Door.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This is a fun debut for the Annie Malone series.  Annie is a unique protagonist. She has wonderful intentions but when she gets in a bit of hot water or when she sees something a little unpleasant she faints dead away. She also has a tendency to babble on when she is nervous or in awkward situations. She is not the smoothest amateur sleuth out there but she is really easy to love both by the reader and a certain gentleman who comes to her rescue more than once.  

One of my favorite places to visit in Wisconsin is Door County. Elizabeth Rose has captured the setting perfectly. It was so easy to picture exactly Annie was or where she was going.

Rose also added a very clever twist to the story in addition to the usual red herrings found in a mystery like this.  A interesting surprise and a great foundation for moving the series forward.  It is also written in a way that will have you unable to put it down. It is fast paced and easily read in one sitting.

Cozy readers will enjoy this trip to Wisconsin’s Door County, I sure did.

just you and a friend


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author
Elizabeth Rose was born in Wisconsin. She has lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin. After working as a technical writer, desktop publisher, ghostwriter, and waitress, she decided to put pen to paper for herself. The book “Murder in Death’s Door County” is very loosely based on a bizarre ghostwriting project she had (names, specific circumstances, and situations have been changed significantly). In addition to continuing with the Annie Malone mystery series, Elizabeth loves to write children’s literature, and draw and paint. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time in Door County, which really is one of the most beautiful places.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
1st in a seriesreadalattechallenge_zps01d248d0mystery challenge2013EbookChallengeliterary road trip 2012

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2013 Wisconsin Setting

Special Guest Dan Chabot Author of GodSpeed – A Love Story (Giveaway too!)

special guest heart

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

When I “met” Dan and we discussed his book we both thought today was the perfect day to share his book with you. I was excited when he agreed to stop by today too.

Writing A Novel
by Dan Chabot

Dan chabot

The best thing about writing a novel is that you actually get to create people — a privilege normally reserved to a much higher power. You can create nice people, evil people, funny people, unhappy people, regular people, irregular people.

The second best thing about writing a novel is picking names for them. What should they be called?

One of the characters in Godspeed: a love story, is named Harold Dunser. A fairly common, solid name, you might think, except that Harold Dunser was the name of my imaginary childhood friend. He lives again!


Another character is named Ossie Puddo. An unusual name, with an unusual pedigree: He was the imaginary friend of my older brother. I often wonder if Harold and Ossie ever met. After all, they lived in the same house…

Every author has his or her own favorite method for picking character names. Mine is to reach into my past and retrieve names that meant something to me. Sometimes I combine familiar names. And sometimes I just see a name in a newspaper or on the web that has a nice ring to it and borrow it for my story.

But possible character names can pop up just about anywhere. Out on the freeway, for example, I like to watch for the signs that tell the names of the towns coming up at the next exit. Some of them when used together have a distinctive ring. That’s how Dawson Steele became a character in my book.

My wife and I had three boys. We wanted a girl, too, but it was not to be. We even had a name picked out — Amedee. Our Amedee never arrived, but a fictional one did…

And if you’re a vindictive sort, you can get even with old adversaries. A very disagreeable character in the book has the same name of somebody who tormented me in the second grade. Take that, John!

Like characters, story ideas themselves can come from unlikely places. For example, the words funeral and love story are not often found together in the same sentence, but the idea behind Godspeed: a love story is based on a tragic real-life incident that had troubled me for years.

I was a young newspaperman when a good friend wound up in the situation that confronts Derry in my novel. My friend was engaged to a lovely young woman who was struck down without warning by ovarian cancer. She had no family to speak of, so it was left to him to make funeral arrangements. In his grief and the daze induced by tranquilizers, he watched helplessly as a shabby funeral home staged an embarrassing service. The rent-a-minister mispronounced her name, fumbled her biographical details, and in general presided over an ignominious travesty. Another friend, on leaving the humiliating ceremony, hissed in his wife’s ear, “Don’t ever let this happen to me.”

As I thought about my friend’s experience, turning it over in my mind and speculating on what I would have done in that situation, the idea for a novel began to take shape. I embellished and embroidered it considerably, added some interesting characters patterned after people I knew in the newspaper business, came up with some surprising twists, and created what I hope is an inspirational, sentimental story about the resilience of the human spirit, love beyond the grave, and a faith in tomorrow.

Because of the serious theme, I had to leaven the story with some doses of humor. Much of it was provided by Derry’s stable of eccentric newspaper colleagues. One of them relates how as a little girl she asked her father why people like Charlie Chaplin walked so jerkily in those old movies, and he told her it was because that’s the way people walked in those days. In another incident, when Derry invites Amedee up to his apartment, she makes friends immediately with his dog, who is scratching furiously at an ear. “Oh, now I get it,” she says impishly. “You lured me up here, an innocent maiden, to see your itchings.” And Derry’s encounter with an earthy, profane, inner-city minister also adds some counterbalance to the overall message

But writing the book took a while. I dabbled at it here and there, writing a chapter now and then, revising it, rewriting it, but the progress was pretty slow. Then one day I read a quotation that got my attention. It said, “Most people die with their music still inside.”

That comment inspired me to finally finish the book. I certainly don’t pretend to have written a symphony, but at least I whistled a little tune! And if any of you have an idea for a book, or a poem, or a song, or any kind of a project, my advice to you is: Get going! Go do it! Sing your song!

In this era of self-publishing it’s not difficult to turn your manuscript into a finished product. The hard part is getting it noticed, because you don’t have a big publishing house and its promotional resources behind you. After you tell your friends and family about your new adventure, you’re on your own to promote it.

That’s why a lot of authors turn to reviewers like Lori. You ask them to take a look at your book, and in a perfect world maybe they’ll like it and tell others about it. A lot of authors have been ignored by agents and the big publishing houses, and yet went on to write best-sellers because bloggers like Lori noticed their work and spread the word.

So thank you, Lori, for the chance to put my book out there before your many followers. I hope they come away from it with both a smile and a tear.


Dan, you are so welcome!! Now let me tell you more about this book!


Godspeed: A love story
Self Published (June 20, 2012)
Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Paperback: 306 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1477435366
E-Book File Size: 469 KB

Godspeed: A Love Story

Derry and Amedee meet during her first day on the job at the Milwaukee Ledger. Their love affair is intense and pure and should last forever. Life throws us curves and Derry receives a big one. Will he survive? 

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I purposely gave you a very short synopsis. I think the reason I such a powerful reaction to the story was because I read it cold, with only scant details of where the story would lead.

It is a love story of an enduring love, told in a ingenious way that really leaves the reader solving a bit of a mystery. A rich tender story filled with emotion but tempered with humor and uplifting moments that balance out what could have turned this into a very heavy story. There is a message  –  an inspirational one  –  but this really is a story about life and how one man deals with the cards he is dealt.

Beautifully written, clever characters and the stories within the story, the testimonials,  really moved me. My only criticism was when the author tried to take this old fashioned love story to a steamy place for a few paragraphs.  The story is so strong he really didn’t need to go there at all.

Have some tissues handy,  pour a nice glass wine and curl up with Godspeed. It is a love story you will truly love.

a perfect escape


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About This Author
Chabot spent 35 years in the newspaper business as a writer, editor and columnist, so he is comfortable writing about big-city newsrooms, the primary setting for his inspirational tale of love and loss, despair and redemption.

He grew up in Ontonagon, Michigan, and worked for several newspapers before joining the staff of the Milwaukee Journal. For many years he was the editor of the Journal’s popular and beloved Green Sheet feature section.

Chabot and his wife, Mary Ellen, now reside in Florida. They are the parents of three grown sons and just recently welcomed a fifth grandchild.

For more information check out his webpage



Would you like to win a copy of Godspeed?

I am giving away my review copy!!!


Leave a comment for Dan for 5 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 28, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.


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.”

readalattechallenge_zps01d248d0a-z challenge 2013large2013where are you readingliterary road trip 2012

Posted in Reviews 2012 Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Review: Mare’s Nest by Lesley Kagen

2012 best contemporary fiction

Mare’s Nest
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 9, 2012)
Contemporary Fiction
Paperback: 466 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1479149186
E-book File Size: 566 KB

Mare's Nest

Annie Bellamy loves horses. She grew up showing horses and the buying, selling, and showing of horses led to the bankruptcy and break-up of her family, and perhaps, her mother’s death. She now is trying to come to grips with her past as her own daughter, Teddy, falls in love with horses the same way she did. She vows that history will not repeat itself. Teddy’s talent cannot be denied. She connects with these horses like Annie never did.

Her daughter’s passion does come with a hefty price tag and she wonders how that will impact her family. She also never imagined the ruthless barn owners, the crooked trainers or the viciously competitive show moms they would meet on this journey in the horse world or “saddle soap opera”. Annie realizes that making her daughter’s dreams come true is going to take courage to stand up to all those around them wanting them to fail.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A captivating and inspiring story of a mother’s love and the special bonds of mother and daughter. Based on a true story, Lesley takes us into world of showing horses. What happens behind those barn doors and in the practice rings. The greed, the jealousy, the corruption, she tells all.

Mare’s Nest is a term defined as “an extraordinarily complicated situation”. That’s what the horse world is, a series of extraordinarily complicated situations. I love the way Kagen writes with heart and humor and the strength she gives her characters. Annie and Teddy had quite an uphill battle and a few missteps but it made each of them stronger and their relationship stronger as well.

As a mother with two daughters myself this book touched my heart. It also made me thankful they played volleyball, basketball and softball. The competitive parents are still there, the coaches did have their favorites, but the equipment can be put in a closet or the garage in the off season. A horse needs care year round and my heart would break every time one got hurt or would have to be sold.

You do not need any knowledge of horses or the competitions involved in showing a horse to love this book. I sure didn’t and I absolutely loved this story. It is a powerful story that every mother or daughter would enjoy. It is a truly awesome book! Definitely worth 10 stars!!!

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About This Author

Lesley Kagen is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author, a mother of two, an actress, voice-over talent,former restaurateur, and accomplished equestrian. Her previous books include Whistling in the Dark, Land of a Hundred Wonders, Tomorrow River, and Good Graces. She lives in Wisconsin. Visit with her on Facebook, and at her web site

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

Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts

Special Guest Kathleen Ernst – Author of The Light Keeper’s Legacy (Giveaway too!)

I am so excited Kathleen has returned here today. I love the Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series. It is set in Wisconsin and in the The Light Keeper’s Legacy we travel away from Old World Wisconsin to Washington Island and Rock Island State Park in Door County. It is a beautiful vacation spot and I loved my visit there with Chloe. I will let Kathleen tell you more about it.

Hi Kathleen!

Hi Everyone!

The Lure of a Lighthouse

by Kathleen Ernst

What is it about lighthouses? I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said something along the lines of “Your new Chloe Ellefson book is set at a lighthouse? I love lighthouses!”

I love lighthouses too. I grew up on the east coast, and saw many majestic towers along the Atlantic shore as a child. Since moving to the Upper Midwest thirty years ago, I’ve visited a number of Great Lakes lighthouses.

Five years ago my husband and I applied to be docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse, which is in Wisconsin’s Rock Island State Park, off the tip of Door County in Lake Michigan. Both of us have experience serving as reenactors and interpreters at historical sites, and to our delight, we were invited to spend a week living in the lighthouse and giving tours to guests. We loved every minute of it.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I needed to get Chloe, protagonist of my Historic Sites mysteries, to Pottawatomie.

In The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Chloe travels to Rock Island as a guest curator, charged with researching and writing a furnishings plan for the lighthouse. She immediately falls under the building’s spell. (Of course, she didn’t plan on finding a body on the beach below…)

Writing The Light Keeper’s Legacy allowed me to delve deeply into the history of Pottawatomie Lighthouse and the women who once lived on the island. And spending time in that world gave rise to my initial question: What is so compelling about lighthouses?

I have several theories. First, many people love being by the water, and the structures are often situated in remote, rugged, scenic spots.

Also, the buildings symbolize maritime history and culture. In addition to keeping the lights burning in often difficult conditions, keepers sometimes rescued stranded travelers or shipwrecked sailors. Perhaps lighthouses encourage us to vicariously experience the challenge of facing the elements on some lonely outpost. How would we have fared?

Finally, I suspect that the lights themselves strike a symbolic chord in the human psyche. The lamps were lifesaving beacons on the darkest of nights. By extension, so were the keepers. Who wouldn’t be attracted by the notion of providing a beam of guidance and hope to some forlorn soul?

As a writer, thinking about this question led me back to Chloe’s week on the island. As her research progresses she learns more about a real woman who once served as assistant keeper at Pottawatomie Lighthouse. Might past events be linked to modern murder? Since the local deputy sheriff investigating the case shows no interest in considering that idea, it’s up to Chloe to shine the needed light on a long chain of dark events—and in so doing, help solve the crime.

So…are you intrigued by lighthouses? If so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.

Leave a comment here, and your name will go into a drawing; the winner may choose any of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, or The Light Keeper’s Legacy.


For more information see my website,, or my blog, .

About This Author
The Light Keeper’s Legacy is Kathleen Ernst’s twenty-fourth published book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including the six-book series about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

Posted in Reviews 2012

Review: The Light Keeper’s Legacy by Kathleen Ernst

The Light Keeper’s Legacy
(A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2012)
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738733074

The Light Keeper's Legacy

Museum curator Chloe Ellefson leaps at the opportunity to be a consultant for the historical lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island. She needs a little time to herself and the tranquility of the Door County state park seems perfect. She will be able to sort through her personal and professionals problems while she attacks the assignment given to her by RISC, the Rock Island Support Circle.

The idyllic place loses its luster though when a dead woman washes ashore below the lighthouse. Now in addition  to researching the time periods and the caretakers of the lighthouse she will try to find the answers to the many questions about the dead woman as well. The women in history that  lived on Rock Island were strong and resilient but all had their own set of problems and strife. Could the woman Chloe found have a link to the women of the past? Chloe  has a feeling she does. She just needs to follow the clues and uncover the mystery.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I have quickly learned one thing about the mysteries written by Kathleen Ernst. Once you start reading them you just can’t stop. So I have learned to plan accordingly. The afternoon spent reading this story was pure joy.

Kathleen has a way of mixing historic times and places with bold characters to create wonderful mysteries. They are smart, well crafted and captivating. The new characters we meet on Rock Island are full, rich and defined. Ernst takes us from 1982 back to the 1860s seamlessly. We get to know the history of the island and the lighthouse and the changes and effects of the fishing regulations. The people who were there on the island then and how they got there and why some left when others stayed. How the past effects the present and the future. I know these books are thoroughly researched and sometimes the best way to learn history is through fictional stories. That is how it has always been back through time. Storytellers are the historians that teach in ways easy to understand. Kathleen Ernst is a gifted storyteller and educator.

I have said before about Kathleen books and it holds true in The Light Keeper’s Legacy, this is not your ordinary cozy, it is so much more.  Everyone will enjoy this story. I recommend it highly. If you haven’t read the first two installments you can start with this one but I guarantee you will want to read them all.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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.”