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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review - A Frying Shame

This is the third entry in the Deep Fried Mystery series.  I reviewed the debut novel, Fillet of Murder (click here), the second book, Out of the Dying Pan (click here), and also was fortunate to have Ms Reilly provide two guest posts (click here and here).  I confess that I have been a fan since the first book, but by the third book in a series we really get an idea of how the series will fare in the long run.  Check out my thoughts.

Author: Linda Reilly

Copyright: April 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Deep Fried Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character: Talia Marby, new owner of a Fish 'n chips shop-Fry Me A Sliver.

Setting: Modern day, Berkshires Maryland

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The town of Wrensdale is abuzz with excitement when Steeltop Foods sponsors a cooking contest to promote its new product, the Flavor Dial. With a $25,000 prize at stake, all the contestants are on edge, including Talia Marby, owner of Fry Me A Sliver. She hopes her mini deep-fried apple pies (recipe included) will win her the money to pay off the renovations on her restaurant. But when Norma Ferguson - long-time resident with a nasty demeanor and widely disliked - wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more.

After Norma is found dead at her cooking station and one of Talia's employees is knocked unconscious, the police suspect a losing contestant got a little too hot under the collar. Now it’s crunch time as Talia works to catch the killer and clear the contestant's name before another cook gets burned.

Talia is kind-hearted and compassionate as well as nosy. I find her easy to identify with. Ryan Collins, an old high school classmate now a software designer, is her boyfriend and I continue to appreciate the break from the cop-boyfriend cliche. I have to say that there just isn't enough of Ryan and Talia on a romantic side, seems the sizzle died once they started dating. Molly is a fill-in employee while Lucas recovers and she is a good addition too. Best friend Rachel from the first book is back in a larger role and I enjoy her character. The new police detective, Patti Prescott is front and center - haranguing Talia to not even think of getting involved.

The plot is classic cozy material with the suspect's secrets coming out and emotions running high. Pacing is steady as the investigation progresses. The climax has some excellent suspense that I enjoy so much.

One thing I would like more of in the story is the Berkshires integrated as part of the story. I enjoy when the setting becomes a character and I think the Berkshires would easily be a great character. I would like to see more romance rather than seeming like an already settled-in couple. These aren't huge deals and certainly not deal breakers, but they would make it shine more. This is another great addition to the series and a sure bet for cozy lovers.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch lis.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I share this because I believe in this shelter and rescue that
specializes in hard-luck or special needs cats.  I have volunteered here since 2014 and believe in the cause.

Purchase some wine here and a portion goes to the cat
rescue I support - win-win! 
We have several to choose from:
Cabernet Sauvignon 
Carmenere and 
Sauvignon Blanc 

  Each bottle features one of our sweet furry angels on the label.  This is a great gift idea for family, friends and co-workers! All of the wines are made with certified organic grapes and are vegan friendly.  They are nice Chilean wines, I have tasted most of them and they are all good!  The shelter gets a good percentage of each bottle sold, so buy a bottle now.
Click here to buy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For the wine timid, get a copy of The Little Wine Guide.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes
savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.


Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne- 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Guest Author Post - B.B. Haywood

Please welcome the B.B. Haywood, author of the Candy Holliday mysteries.  I have only reviewed on of the books in this series, Town in a Lobster Stew (click here), but it is a quite popular series. 

Maple Sugaring and Mud Season—Oh My!
It Must be March in New England

What would a big stack of Maine blueberry pancakes be without fresh maple syrup poured over the top? We’re talking real maple syrup, not the type of artificial “pancake syrup” you find in grocery stores. That’s made from flavored corn syrup, and it’s not maple syrup! But what’s the difference between the two, and how is maple syrup made, anyway?

You’ll find out in the pages of Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery series, due out April 4th. As we once again join the friendly and busy villagers of the coastal community of Cape Willington, Maine, it’s late March, which means it’s maple sugaring season. But it’s also the time of year when snow and ice are starting to melt, which means it’s mud season. Two big events, one sweet, one not so sweet, and they both play a prominent role in our story.

Cape Willington has two “sugar shacks”—one at Crawford’s Berry Farm, owned by Neil Crawford, and the other at Sugar Hill Farm, owned by Hutch and Ginny Milbright. As the story opens, both sugar shacks are in full operation, with their evaporators fired up and boiling sap, releasing sweet-smelling steam. As readers will find out, maple syrup comes from the sap of sugar maple trees, and it’s produced in the northeastern United States and in Canada, where sugar maples grow. Maine is one of the largest producers of maple syrup, and in the fictional village of Cape Willington, maple sugaring is the primary activity in early spring, before the strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins take over in the summer and fall.

The sap begins to flow in late February, when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing but night-time temperatures fall below freezing. The season can last anywhere from just a few days to several weeks, and it ends when the tree buds begin to open. The length of maple sugaring season differs from year to year, depending on the weather and air temperatures.

The sugar maple trees are tapped with one tap every spring (unless someone is tapping them illegally, which happens occasionally in New England). Traditionally, the sap runs into buckets attached to the trees, but typically today, the taps are connected by plastic tubing that drains into one central container, creating a network of tubing that’s not unlike a giant spider web strung between the trees. It’s not uncommon to drive down a rural dirt lane in New England and see the tubing connected to tree after tree all the way down the road. It’s always an exciting time, because it’s one of the first signs that spring is on the way.

After the syrup is collected, it’s transported to a sugar shack, usually by tractor and cart, where it’s placed into an evaporator and boiled to remove water. It takes, on average, about 43 gallons of raw sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time and effort, but the flavorful result it well worth it! Once boiled, the syrup is graded from light to dark. Light syrup is the mildest, while dark has the strongest flavor.

Of course, maple sugaring season is also mud season, which means getting to those tapped trees, or getting anywhere on a dirt or back road, can be a tricky proposition. Drivers in Maine and New England try to avoid as much as possible those muddy back roads (which are everywhere in rural New England) in the spring, but when they have to drive on them, they drive as fast as possible so as not to get stuck, since the mud can become like quicksand. So beware if you’re driving in Cape Willington in March! Just drive fast, hold on to the steering wheel as tightly as you can, and hope for the best!

As all these natural events are taking place, the townspeople of Cape Willington are preparing for their first annual Maple Madness Weekend. A number of family-fun events are planned, including a Maple Marshmallow Roast in Town Park and a maple scavenger hunt. The villagers are also opening a “pop-up” pancake restaurant, where they’ll serve hot pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup all weekend long. But in the middle of the festivities, disaster strikes, as the body of one of the town’s most well-known residents is found floating in the English River, his hands and feet tied up and a mortal wound in his back.

Who did it? That’s what blueberry farmer Candy Holliday, her father Henry “Doc” Holliday, local strawberry farmer Neil Crawford and his dog Random, and Candy’s best friend Maggie (Tremont) Wolfsburger, along with her new husband, Herr Georg Wolfsburger, and the other villagers have to find out. All the answers will be revealed in Town in a Maple Madness, so be sure to pick up a copy. Your taste buds will thank you!


Did you know you can use maple syrup to replace regular sugar in baking recipes? The simple rule is, three quarters’ cup of maple syrup equals one cup of sugar. In Town in a Maple Madness, we have included several recipes with maple syrup as an ingredient, including Black Forest Bakery Chocolate Maple Brownies, Maple Banana Bread, Maple-glazed Carrots, and Maple Drop Cookies. Enjoy!

Town in a Maple Madness will be published on April 4, 2017, by Berkeley Prime Crime, and available in both print and as an eBook. Other titles in the New York Times bestselling series include Town in a Cinnamon Toast (Book 7), Town in a Sweet Pickle (Book 6), Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Book 5), Town in a Pumpkin Bash (Book 4), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Book 3), Town in a Lobster Stew (Book 2), and Town in a Blueberry Jam (Book 1). Large print editions of the books and an audiobook of Town in a Blueberry Jam are also available. For more information on the series, visit 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you for this overview of your most recent book release.  

Here is a recipe to go with the maple them of the book. 

I have had this at an Italian restaurant as an appetizer, but I got this recipe from

Maple Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Dates   

    24 pitted dates
    8 pieces of bacon, cut into thirds
    ¼ cup maple syrup
    ¼ cup brown sugar

    Preheat oven to 375°.
    Pour dates into a bowl, set bacon on a cutting board, pour syrup into a separate bowl, pour sugar into a separate bowl, kind of like an assembly line.
    Cut bacon into thirds, giving you a total of 24 pieces. Or, if bacon is already somewhat small in size, cut bacon in half and add 4 extra slices.
    Work with dates, one by one: start by wrapping a date in a slice of bacon and securing it with a toothpick. Then, dip bacon in syrup and cover it in sugar and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
    Repeat this process for all 24 dates.
    Place baking sheet in oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes, flipping half way through so bacon is cooked completely.
    Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional sugar and enjoy!


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Monday, April 10, 2017

Guest Author Post - Linda Reilly

Linda Reilly is the author of an exciting new Deep Fried cozy mystery series, Linda was first published in 1995. In 2013 Five Star Publishing released her first full-length mystery, Some Enchanted Murder, featuring Paralegal/title searcher Apple Mariani.  I loved her debut of Deep Fried cozy mystery, Fillet of Murder (read review here.)  Let's welcome Linda to our blog today!

A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher . . .

There are so many components that go into writing a mystery. Fun characters, sneaky red herrings, a plethora of guilty-looking suspects . . . all of these have to be dumped together, shaken up, and poured out into a cohesive story.

When I was writing the initial draft of A FRYING SHAME, I needed to come up with a street name. The street itself wasn’t important—simply a quick reference by the police detective as to why she was late for her meeting with Talia Marby, my main character.

Normally I’d stare out the window to dream up a name, or I’d think of a street name from my childhood. I still can’t recall how I came up with “Oriole Road” that day, but it found its way into the story.

A few months after I turned in the manuscript to my publisher, my husband broke his hip. During the early stages of his post-surgery rehab, we decided the time was right for us to move to a place where he’d no longer have to climb stairs. I found a promising apartment complex nearby, and decided to check it out. A newly renovated unit had just become available, with full bath and master bedroom on the ground level. It was perfect! Even more delightful was that the upstairs bedroom would make the ideal writing lair for me.

We took the apartment. As soon as my husband was well enough to go home after weeks of physical therapy, we moved in. The address of our wonderful new apartment? Oriole Court. But the street name didn’t even ring a bell -- not until the publisher sent me the edits for A Frying Shame. I was stunned to realize I’d named a random street Oriole Road months before we’d even thought about moving! (insert Twilight Zone music here)

I’ll bet you’re thinking I’d driven past that street before, and that somehow the name got stuck in my sub-conscious. Nope. Oriole Court is an internal street within the apartment community. I couldn’t have seen it from the main drag unless I’d driven into the complex. And I hadn’t.

I’ve decided that the universe was whispering in my ear the day I made up that street name. The hubby and I are very happy in our Oriole Court apartment, just as Talia Marby, the fry cook in the Deep Fried mysteries, is loving her new digs in Wrensdale, Massachusetts. Living in her nana’s bungalow, she’s been having a blast transforming the old fish and chips shop into a deep-fried eatery.

But it’s not without its challenges. Wherever Talia goes, murder seems to pop into the picture. If you’re in the Berkshires, stop by Fry Me a Sliver and enjoy a deep-fried treat. The ambiance is cozy, the AC is pumping out chilled air, and the deep fryer is sizzling. And be sure to eavesdrop on the local gossip . . . you can bet it’ll be all about murder.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms Reilly for sharing those interesting tidbits.  

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Fill in the Blank - Mystery Game

The idea is to try and fill in the blank of each of these mystery book titles.  Some are classics and some are more current.  I have to admit - I think these are challenging!!

In a few days I will provide the answers and you can share how well you did.

Let's give this a try.

1)  _____ Your  Dead  

2)  A _________ Blue Death 

3)  Dark Road to __________ 

4)  _________ to Death

5)  Finger _______ Dead

6)  A Trick of the _____
7)  A Dead Red ________ 

8)   Death and the ___ _____

9)   The House of ____

10)  A Crimson _____

I hope you enjoyed this mystery game.  Please leave a comment and let me know how well you did.  Are they too easy?

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Author Guest Post - Laura Childs

Welcome Ms. Laura Childs to our blog today.  Laura Childs is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Pekoe Most Poison is her just-released Tea Shop Mystery. 

In Laura’s previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Watch Out, I’m Watching You!

That’s right, I’m the little blond lady who’s scrunched in the corner of the coffee shop. I’m watching you carefully and jotting notes. I see what you’re wearing – I like that paisley scarf, by the way – and I’m scrutinizing the way you sip your coffee and nibble your scone.

No, I don’t work for the CIA, FBI, or IRS. I’m an author who writes three different mystery series and I get ideas for my characters by watching all the fascinating real-life characters around me. From the folks who cross my path at the driver’s license bureau to the ones who are picking through bins of organic oranges at the grocery store or kicking tires at the local garage.

You all fascinate me and give me such wonderful ideas because you’re all real, highly individual, and (this is a good thing) a little bit quirky. You see, creating literary characters is a tricky thing for an author. You want them to be loved, reviled, understood, amusing, or even feared. But characters also need to be larger than life. They need to transcend the pages, worm their way into your hearts and memories, and stick like a proverbial burr. That way you’ll look forward to reading my next book.

The interesting thing is that we all tend to respond well to characters who are a little bit like us – that are relatable. We want a book that tells a rollicking new story, but we also want that story to reflect some of who we are and what we’ve experienced in life.

In a mystery, questions drive the plot and narrative. In Pekoe Most Poison the reader will want to know – who are these crazy waiters and why are they wearing rat heads? Who put deadly poison in the tea? Who stashed a box of X-Terminate Rat Poison in the kitchen cupboard? The same elements that draw us into a story are the same things that propel characters and story lines. Most important of all, we

are as anxious to solve the murder mystery as Theodosia, the main character in Pekoe Most Poison.

So next time someone watches you surreptitiously, please don’t worry. You might end up the perfect character in someone’s best-selling novel!

All my very best,

Laura Childs

Find out more at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Childs for that post.  

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Guest Author Post - Laura Bradford

Welcome Laura Bradford, the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey, and the upcoming Tobi Tobias Mystery Series. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance.

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned From My Characters

With five mystery series (and a few romance novels) under my belt, I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things from the characters and worlds I write. So today, I give you the top ten things they’ve taught me along the way…

#10. From Elise Jenkins in my first-ever book, Deadly Readings (book # 1 in my Jenkins & Burns Mysteries): If a rash of murders in your town can be tied back to one particular boardwalk fortune teller, have your fortune told by someone else.

# 9. From Elise Jenkins in Deadly Getaway (book # 2 in my Jenkins & Burns Mysteries): If you’re vacationing on a remote island and you get word that a killer is on the loose, lock your hotel room door and stay put.

# 8. From Tori Sinclair in all eleven (soon to be twelve) of the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey: When you move to town and people suddenly start dropping like flies, it might be you.

# 7. From Margaret Louise Davis in Death Threads (book # 2 in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Moonshine makes everything better, even sweet potato pie.

# 6. From Claire Weatherly in Suspendered Sentence (book # 4 in my Amish Mysteries): It’s best to stay out of the woods at night.

# 5. From Jakob Fisher in A Churn For The Worse (book # 5 in my Amish Mysteries): When the woman you like offers to go undercover to help catch a killer, go with your gut and say no.

# 4. From Tobi Tobias in Death in Advertising (book # 1 in my Tobi Tobias Mysteries): Maybe you *don’t* really want to know what’s behind that door…

# 3. From Carter McDade in 30 Second Death (the upcoming book # 2 in my Tobi Tobias Mysteries): Next time, when you feel the urge to tell someone off, make sure no one is lurking…

# 2. From Winnie Johnson in Éclair and Present Danger (book # 1 in my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries): When someone offers to buy that ambulance you inherited, let him.

# 1. From Winnie Johnson in The Silence of the Flans (second book in my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries): Those footsteps you hear? The ones you’re certain belong to a killer? That’s your cue to run. No, really… 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THANK You Ms. Bradford for that top ten list.  I enjoyed all of them.  Dear reader, do you have a favorite?

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review - Silence of the Flans

This is the second book in the new Emergency Dessert Squad series.  I have often said that I consider the second book the most difficult, following up even a fair debut carries a tremendous burden to do even better.  I reviewed the first book, Eclair and Present Danger (click here) and we had a delightful guest post by the author (click here).  Read on if you are interested in how the second book did in my humble opinion.

Author:  Laura Bedford

Copyright: March 2017 (Berkley) 300 pgs

Series: 2nd in Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Winnie Johnson, baker and owner of Emergency Dessert Squad

Setting: Modern day, Silver Lake - a small college town somewhere

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "Baker Winnie Johnson does her best work when the heat is on. As owner of the Emergency Dessert Squad, she has a deft touch in the kitchen and a soft spot for lost causes. So when her business professor beau, Jay Morgan, expresses misgivings over having to fail one of his fourth-year students, Winnie cooks up a sweet solution. 
She’ll offer an extra credit opportunity in exchange for a little help with her growing business. But when her protégé’s first dessert delivery poisons a student journalist, the publicity threatens to burn Winnie’s business to a crisp. Now the entrepreneur-turned-detective must uncover the ingredients behind a recipe for murder before she crumbles under pressure."

Winnie Johnson enjoys the company of seniors and lives to slave away at a stove.  Renee Ballentine, the stileto wearing single mom is her best friend and cheerleader.  Mr. Nelson is the downtstairs elderly neighbor and another cheerleader who is fighting mad over the town catering to a developer.  Bridget is the elderly newspaper gossip columnist and another cheerleader for Winnie.  Greg Stevens is the hunkie fireman who shows an interest in Winnie and tries courting her in this story since Jay shuts Winnie out.  Jay Morgan, the professor and guy who makes Winnie's heart beat faster, gives her the cold shoulder throughout the story.  I had a difficult time with that scenario and his lame excuse.  Lovey, the cat she also inherited that hisses at her continually is ever present and maybe warming to Winnie a little. 

Silver Lake College is a featured setting other than Winnie's kitchen or front porch. The plot implicates Winnie as a murderer and provides the reason for her to investigate. It is straight-forward with the impact of her business failing and the town (particularly Jay) suspecting her as the  driving urgency.  That resulted in some pacing lulls - as least for me.  

There is no suspenseful killer confrontation or reveal. Winnie realizes she is alone with the killer, then - end scene.  New chapter after killer arrested.  The rest is the wrap-up.  If you have followed many of my reviews, you know a well crafted tense or suspenseful killer confrontation is my favorite.  I can appreciate even the less nail-biting killer reveals, but to not cover it at all?!  I don't know about you, but I feel incredibly cheated by that non-climax.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?

I like the quirky premise of this series, a rescue dessert squad that delivers the individual dessert in an ambulance - on a stretcher.  But the concept also requires a significant amount of suspension of disbelief that selling desserts one custom order at a time, custom baked at the time of the order, out of a house kitchen, plus delivery is not only affordable but pays enough to support two employees.  If you can overlook that logical hiccup, then the idea is cute.

Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws as noted. Use your own judgement as to whether these items I noted will be a deal breaker for you.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Purchase some wine here and a portion goes to the cat
rescue I support - win-win!
We have several to choose from: 
Cabernet Sauvignon  
Carmenere and  
Sauvignon Blanc  

  Each bottle features one of our sweet furry angels on the label.  This is a great gift idea for family, friends and co-workers! All of the wines are made with certified organic grapes and are vegan friendly.  They are nice Chilean wines, I have tasted most of them!  The shelter gets a good percentage of each bottle sold, so buy a bottle now.
Click here to buy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For the wine timid, get a copy of The Little Wine Guide.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes
savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.


Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne- 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Guest Post - Linda Wiken

Welcome author Linda Wiken to M&MM today!  For 14 years, Linda Wiken owned the mystery specialty store, Prime Crime Books in Ottawa, ON. It was with sadness and a sense of anticipation that she closed the store in 2010. 

Now, she's embarked on a life of crime between the pages. Her first novel in the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries, A Killer Read, was published April, 2012 as her alter ego, Erika Chase, and was shortlisted for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel at the Malice Domestic conference. There are now five books in the series.

She embarked on a new writing adventure this year as the real Linda Wiken with another series, the Dinner Club Mysteries, also from Berkley Prime Crime. The first book, Toasting Up Trouble, is now available.  The second, Roux the Day, is available this month.

Roux the day! Especially if that day ends in murder. It happens!

Those of us who love reading cozy mysteries know that so well. As does J.J. Tanner, my protagonist in the Dinner Club Mysteries. Roux the Day is her second outing, along with the members of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club. And this time, she’s pulled into investigating a murder that took place at a fundraising Casino Night on a harbour cruise; one that she’d organized in her event planner capacity. When her friend, Connor Mac, goes missing and then hits the top of the suspect list, with J.J. in number two spot, she and the other foodies start their own investigation.

I’ve found that writing culinary mysteries is double the fun. Not only do I get to plan murders and the numerous villains, ah, suspects but I also do a lot of food research. Which of course involves sampling. I also have a passion for cookbooks, mainly because of the visuals. How can you not be seduced by those wonderful photos of food! Oddly enough, that’s something J.J. and I share. She is trying to up her game though, and ventures into cooking dishes that are fairly complex, for her. I find myself trying the same thing these days.

Part of the reason for my increased cooking skills comes from being on the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog which requires a recipe, with photos, twice a month. If you’re into culinary mysteries, you’ll want to visit the site at Some of your favorite cozy authors blog there regularly. And the recipes are to die for. Oops, maybe not such a good choice of terms.

In Roux the Day, the members of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club choose a real cookbook, and each make a recipe out of it for their monthly dinner club gathering. This time around, I’m trying something different. I’ve asked the foodies to use the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, and thus I had to scramble to get the appropriate permission from authors (Sara Paretsky, Lisa King, and Cathy Pickens) to reprint the ones you’ll find at the back of Roux the Day.

It turned out to be a lot of fun, mainly because everyone thinks it’s such an unusual idea.

I hope you’ll join J.J. and friends as they strategize, investigate and, of course, dine. And P.I. Ty Devine has her back, but his intentions may be more personal than professional. At least, they’re picking up from when they first met in Toasting Up Trouble, the first book in the Dinner Club Mysteries,

What’s a gal to do? Solve the crime, of course.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Miss Wiken for your guest post.  I am amazed at the ingenuity of the many writers who even come up with their own recipes for books.  I reviewed the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook (click here).  

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review - Deadly Scandal

When I saw Kate Parker had a new series in Pre-WWII London, I had to read the debut book.  I know the author from the "must-read" Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, all of which I have reviewed here.  I loved that series and couldn't wait to dig into her new series.  This is my review of the first in her new series, see if it sounds like something you would like.

Author: Kate Parker

Copyright: Jan 2016 (JDP Press) 338 pgs

Series: 1st in Deadly Series Mysteries

Sensuality: Mild, adult themes

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Olivia Dennis, recently widowed and newly employed society columnist

Setting: 1937, London England

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

From the cover: "Olivia Denis is a contented young wife with a carefree life in late 1930’s London. Then her world is shattered with the violent death of her husband, Reggie. The police want to call it a suicide and close the case, but Olivia knows Reggie couldn’t possibly have fired the fatal shot.

Further mysteries surface surrounding her husband’s death. Did [her husband], a trustworthy Foreign Office employee betray government secrets? Was his murder linked to the death of a German embassy clerk the same night? And who searched their flat?

Her desire for answers and her need to support herself cause her to break away from the pampered life she’s known and take a job. But with the much-needed paycheck as a society reporter for a newspaper comes a secret secondary assignment—one that involves her in the increasingly dangerous world of European politics as the continent slides toward war."

Olivia Dennis is refreshing, determined, and although pampered she isn't shocked by the real world.  Reggie, her deceased husband, live on through the memories of others and is definitely a character "in absentia" in the story.  Reggie had significant secrets he kept from everyone.  Lady Abigail (Abby), her BFF, is her cheerleader encouraging her.  Captain Adam Redmond, who works for Army Intelligence, is investigating a government leak that Reggie was under suspicion for, and gets involved in aiding/looking out for Olivia.  Of course he is charming and good looking!  They work well together and have great chemistry.  Her father, an aristocrat, wants to control Olivia's life and tuck her away.  

London just before WWII is a great setting with many, even in aristocracy, who were Hitler sympathizers.  This book brings the tenuous political atmosphere to life with intrigue and danger lurking at high society parties and among co-workers and friends.  Olivia's job at the paper comes with a condition that the paper's owner can send her on spying assignments to ferret out information at embassy parties and such about Hitler's plans.  At one point she even has to do some traveling out of the country to obtain information.

The killer reveal answered questions and tied up the threads while providing a good and tense confrontation.  The wrap-up sets the reader up for the next book.  

This story had a few elements that reminded me of the Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie Charade, particularly how the wife doesn't know her deceased husband's big secrets.  I have already bought the next in the series because I just couldn't stand parting from these characters for long.  This book is a treat with all the ingredients perfectly mixed and balanced for a delicious adventure.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Review - A Dark and Stormy Murder

It took a few months to get to this book in the TBR pile.  But the concept of a Gothic cozy mystery was so compelling, I finally made the time to read it.  Find out if Gothic works in a cozy in the review.  Julia Buckley is also the author of the UnderCover Dish Mystery series.  She did us the honor of a guest author post (click here) where she shared her love of gothic suspense author Mary Stewart.

Author: Julia Buckley

Copyright: July 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 1st in Writer's Apprentice Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Lena London, new writing assistant to a best-selling author

Setting: Modern day, Blue Lake Indiana

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "Lena London's literary dreams are coming true—as long as she can avoid any real-life villains...
Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous Victorian home (Graham House) in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.
Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them both out of the story for good."

Lena makes friends really easily. Within a few hours of arriving in Blue Lake for her new job she strikes up a friendship with a surly neighbor the majority of people in town are leary of since he is still a prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife - and a scattered young woman with two children in tow.  She is intelligent yet can fly into tangents of shear emotion.  Best-selling author Camilla is a delight and a star in the book. BFF Allison seems like a great person, but I would like a bit more of her character.  

Sam West is an slightly older man with a dark cloud of suspicion that he killed is "missing" wife.  **Spoiler: I find Lena's nearly instant interest in and defense of him, and he in her, a bit creepy considering his wife's suspicious disappearance. **End Spoiler.  Policeman Doug Heller who takes his job very seriously and is the popular guy with blonde good looks tries to impress Lena. Adam Rayburn runs the one upscale restaurant, Wheat Grass, and seems interested in Camilla.  I have to mention the animals: Lena's cat Lestrade and Camilla's German Sheperds Rochester and Heathcliff are great!

Blue Lake is an ideal setting and Graham house has a few locals who swear it holds a secret - they evoke the gothic atmosphere.  The main plot has it's own complexities, but the subplots of Graham House's secret and Sam's wife's disappearance cast long shadows and add great layers.  Pacing kept the interest up.  

You know I like the hair raising tense killer reveals, and this book delivered.  Great job there.  The wrap up leaves a pretty big sub-plot cliff hanger so you are on the edge of your seat for the next book.

I loved this Gothic cozy in many ways, but there was the blemish I mentioned in the spoiler, plus Lena has an incredibly childish moment and throws food at the police for doing their jobs.  Those are the down side.  The up side is a successfully atmospheric tale with a substantial mystery and otherwise well done characters.  I down right loved parts. I will definitely be looking for the next book in this new series.  
Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me inspite of some minor issues! 

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Purchase some wine here and a portion goes to the cat rescue I support - win-win!
We have several to choose from: 
Cabernet Sauvignon  
Carmenere and  
Sauvignon Blanc  

  Each bottle features one of our sweet furry angels on the label.  This is a great gift idea for family, friends and co-workers! All of the wines are made with certified organic grapes and are vegan friendly.  They are nice Chilean wines, I have tasted most of them!  The shelter gets a good percentage of each bottle sold, so buy a bottle now.

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For the wine timid, get a copy of The Little Wine Guide.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.

Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne- 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review - A Wee Homicide in the Hotel

Here is the newest in the ScotShop mystery series.  I reviewed #1 Wee Murder In My Shop (click here),
 #2 A Wee Dose of Death (click here), and I was tickled to have the author provide three guest posts (click here) , 2nd (click here), and 3rd (click here).  We are up to the third entry in the series and I review it below.

Author: Fran Stewart

Copyright: February 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in ScotShop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy with lite paranormal elements

Main Characters: Peggy Winn, owner of a Scottish-themed shop

Setting: Modern day, Hameline Maine

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "Hamelin is overflowing with tourists enjoying the Scottish-themed games—and most of them are donning tartans from Peggy Winn’s ScotShop. And her fourteenth-century ghostly companion, Dirk, has been indispensable, keeping an eye out for shoplifters and matching customers’ family names to their clan plaid.

Adding to the chaos is Big Willie, a longtime champion of the games, but not everyone is happy to have him in town. So when he misses the first event of the weekend, Peggy senses something is awry. After Willie is discovered dead in his hotel room, the victim of a bagpipe-related crime, Peggy decides it’s up to her and Dirk to suss out a murderer."  The FBI are also in town because of some surprise high profile political visitors to the Scottish games.  This is a good subplot too.

Peggy is an entrepreneur and long suffering with seemingly non-stop questions from a ghost usually when she shouldn't answer because of people around. Dirk (full name Macbeth Donlevy Freusach Macearacher Macpheidiran of clan Farquharson) is a man out of time and has mellowed a touch from prior book.  BFF Karaline Logg is involved more with a subplot for her character.  Twin Brother Drew makes an appearance as part of the subplot.  Police Captain Harper really needs to take Peggy on several dates before he starts thinking of marriage...and learn to actually talk, really talk, with her.

The setting of the Scottish Festival with the competitions and bagpipers was delightful and a great touch. There is plenty going on in this between the FBI in town, the games, Big Willie, and some minor characters developed, so the pacing moves along and keeps the interest.  The climax did not disappoint and the wrap up was satisfying.  

I liked the development of the subplots that truly layered the story.  I still have issues with Dirk asking insistent questions that Peggy answers around people making her look like she's bonkers.  I don't find that amusing as I suspect is intended.  Dirk has toned down his superior "know-it-all" attitude a little, which helps.  This is a lite generally enjoyable romp with everything Scottish including hunky kilt-wearing guys and lots of clan tartans.

Rating:  Good - A fun read.

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Tipsy Laird Recipe – A Great Scottish Trifle

4 large egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
2 c scalded milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pkg ladyfingers
  apricot jam
1/2 c whiskey
  toasted almonds
  whipped cream, sweetened


- Beat yolks and stir in sugar and salt.

- Stir Milk in gradually and cook over hot water, stir constantly until mixture coats spoon. Chill, flavor with vanilla

- Split the Lady Fingers and spread with Jam. Put a layer in glass bowl and pour whiskey over it. Let cake soak up Liquor. Cover with 1/2 of custard. Repeat layer of lady fingers sprinkled with whiskey and pour custard.

- Repeat steps for all layers until you reach the top of your dish finishing with the pudding layer.

- Next whip the heavy cream, add sugar to sweeten and spoon on top of the last layer of custard. Decorate the top with toasted almonds.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Author Post - Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart to our blog.  This is her third visit with us (click here and here).  When she's not mowing or writing, Fran Stewart enjoys singing, knitting, reading (of course), and volunteering in her grandchildren’s school library. 

Author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series and the ScotShop mysteries, as well as A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers, she lives quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.

“Moving Slowly Through Life”

One of the advantages of a cozy mystery is the sure-footed pace, compared to a thriller’s almost non-stop suspense. Oh, there’s still room for plenty of suspenseful moments in a cozy, but they’re couched differently than the more robust action of thrillers.

Rather like the different types of lawnmowers.

One of the loveliest sounds from my childhood was the snip, snip, snip of the lawnmower as my dad tooled around the yard on a Sunday afternoon behind our reel lawnmower. The kind you push. The kind you don’t have to turn on. The kind that doesn’t take gas or electricity. The kind I have sitting in my garage. A reel lawnmower is a cozy kind of mower. Today’s power mowers, riding mowers, and even robotic mowers lean more heavily toward the other type.

There’s a “reel” adventure to mowing my yard. I don’t have to wear earplugs, which means I can hear the squirrels scolding me for getting near "their" birdseed at the bottom of the feeder. I can easily pause to say hello when neighbors out for a walk circle around to the bottom of my cul-de-sac.

I don’t ever have to worry about chopping my foot off if I stumble, just as with a cozy mystery I don’t have to worry about nightmares involving blood and gore.

I can hear the rustling as a neighbor’s cat bursts from underneath the Vinca (which is in danger of taking over the whole yard) and heads over toward one of the oak leaf hydrangeas to hide underneath its massive leaves until I leave the vicinity. I never have to worry that my mower will throw a rock against a neighbor’s child (or car, or cat).

I can hear the wind blowing through the trees above me. I can hear the birds who have learned over the years that mowing time does not mean the end of feeding time. They keep right on zooming in to snatch seed from the many feeders.

Of course, I stop frequently to unstick pines cones that get
wedged in the reel. If I’d take the time to rake the yard free of pinecones before I start mowing, I wouldn’t have to do the un-wedging so often, but that’s okay. When I’m bending down for a cone, I get to look closer at the native red clover to see if any bumblebees have found it yet.

Raking the yard would, now that I think about it, be rather like editing a manuscript. Getting rid of the sticky words, phrases, scenes so the mystery will flow more smoothly. I do that with my writing. I just don’t ever think about it when it comes around to mowing time.

Have you ever had the pleasure of pushing a reel mower? No? Would you like to try? Drop by my house sometime this summer and give it a whirl. I’ll sit on my front porch with a glass of lemonade and watch you have fun.
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THANK You Ms. Stewart for a glimpse into your yard and old school smell-the-flowers mowing style.

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