Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick or Deadly Treat: A Fresh Baked Mystery by Livia J. Washburn - A Halloween Book Review

You're never too old for a sweet treat this time of year, especially when it comes in the form of a wonderful cozy mystery like Livia J. Washburn's "Trick or Deadly Treat," the latest book in her Fresh Baked Mystery series!

About The Book:

It’s Halloween in Weatherford, Texas—which means Phyllis Newsom is baking up a storm of yummy seasonal treats...but she’s about to get even busier unmasking a killer.

While Phyllis and her friend Carolyn are preparing for a baking contest, her housemate Sam adopts Buck, an adorable Dalmatian who was hit by a car. To thank local veterinarian Hank Baxter for helping the dog, Phyllis and Carolyn bake a batch of doggie treats for his other four-legged patients.
But when they arrive at the clinic, the vet is in the process of being arrested—for the murder of his wife! Convinced that the police are barking up the wrong tree and that someone’s been burying evidence, Sam begs Phyllis to help find the real killer. Joined by Buck, the friends engage in a dogged pursuit of the murderer, who will stop at nothing to muzzle them …permanently.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy Livia Washburn's Fresh-Baked mystery series for several reasons. Her characters are good ol' Texas down-home folks, people you'd want living next door to you; the setting of Weatherford, Texas is realistic and charming; and the mysteries that Phyllis and her friends find themselves getting involved with are always interesting and intriguing.

In "Trick or Deadly Treat," I was thrilled to find Sam Fletcher, Phyllis' gentleman friend and fellow retired teacher, getting to take a leading role in the mystery-solving and he really shines in this story.  The two other retired teachers who board at Phyllis' home, Eve and Carolyn, take a little bit of a back-seat in this tale, although Carolyn is still there competing with Phyllis to see who is the best baker amongst them (as has happened in previous stories) - this time they are trying out doggie treat recipes as well as recipes for a magazine contest. This little competition is a fun part of this series, and Washburn delights her readers with scrumptious recipes at the end of the book!

Washburn delivers a solid mystery with this book, along with all the fun. Her storytelling skills are evident in that readers will be surprised at "who dun it" in the end!

I highly recommend this book for a charming Halloween read, or a fun "anytime" read for cozy mystery lovers!

About The Author:

Livia J. Washburn has been a professional writer for more than twenty years. She received the Private Eye Writers of America Award and the American Mystery Award for her first mystery, Wild Night, written under the name L. J. Washburn, and was nominated for a Spur Award by the Western Writers of America for a novel written with her husband, James Reasoner.

She lives with her husband in a small Texas town, where she is constantly experimenting with new recipes. Her two grown daughters are both teachers in her hometown, and she is very proud of them. Other titles in the Fresh-Baked Mystery series include The Fatal Funnel Cake and Wedding Cake Killer.

My thanks to Penguin Books/Obsidian Mysteries for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Yes!  It's Monday, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the weather is nice and mild - I love fall!  Seems like I can just think better this time of year, and that's a good thing indeed!

I am excited about my book selection this week - a little bit different that what I usually read - but it's good to expand my reading horizons!!

Plus, I have a fun Halloween-themed week of wonderful books that are sure to thrill and chill you, and make you giggle a little in the process!  Hope you'll come back by this week and check out the fun books I've gathered up.

So, without further ado, here's what I have planned!

What I'm Reading Now:

What I Plan To Read:

Special Events:

Wednesday - Book Blog Tour Stop

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you have fabulous books to read this week as well!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme sponsored by Sheila at Bookjourney (www.bookjourney.wordpress.com)  Stop by and see what other bloggers are reading this week!

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Friday, October 24, 2014

What Your Heart Needs For The Hard Days by Holley Gerth - Book Review

About The Book:

We all have days that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.

Thankfully, Jesus said we don't "live on bread alone"--that includes cupcakes--"but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). What we really need is truth.
If you're tired, discouraged, or feel a little empty inside, my prayer is that by the end of our time together, you'll be refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.

Remember, you're not alone, my friend.
In this uplifting book, Holley Gerth invites you to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God's promises. Each of the 52 devotions based on the Psalms will help you remember that God is good and we're all in this together.

My Thoughts:

Although this book is tiny, it is filled with mighty encouragement and wisdom.  I love how Holley Gerth takes the words from the Psalmist and adds personal stories and prayers to create 52 weeks of wonderful and refreshing advice for the hardest of days, and powerful uplifting messages for the good days. 

In addition to each week's message, Gerth includes a personal prayer with space for the reader's own petitions to God, and a journaling space for the reader's thoughts.  Small enough to fit into your purse, "What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days" is a perfect companion for anyone wanting to delve deeper into God's word and promises through the book of Psalms.  I plan to keep this devotional book close at hand for the upcoming new year for encouragement and guidance - I hope you will too!

About The Author:

Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her popular blog and books like You're Already Amazing, You're Made for a God-Sized Dream, Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dream, and You're Going to Be Okay. She's also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South. Learn more at www.holleygerth.com.

My thanks to Revell Books for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bless Her Dead Little Heart: A Southern Ladies Mystery by Miranda James - Book Review

I am so tickled to tell you about a wonderful new southern-themed cozy mystery series from a fabulous author, Miranda James (aka Dean James).

About The Book:

New York Times bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality….

With the Mississippi sun beating down, An’gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris’s cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne’er-do-well adult children not far behind.

Rosabelle’s selfish offspring are desperate to discover what’s in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters’ Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer….

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, where do I start? Take a tall glass of sweet tea, add in two gracious ladies, their friends and family, and a few unexpected murders and you have a thrilling and fun mystery to enjoy!

"Bless Her Dead Little Heart" is the first book in a "spin-off" cozy mystery series from the talented writing hand of Miranda (Dean) James.  Featuring the sassy and brassy Ducote sisters from James' "Cat In The Stacks" series, the southern ladies are at their sweet and fierce best in this fun "who dun it?" tale. And making a special guest appearance to lend a hand in solving the crimes is Diesel, the above-average sized and above-average smart Maine Coon cat who stars in the "Cat In The Stacks" series.

I got a real kick out of An'gel and Dickce Ducote - these gals don't let much ruffled their feathers. When their college friend Rosabelle and her family descend on the sisters' home, all sorts of chaos erupts, including several of the family members meeting their demise in the Ducote home.  But this doesn't rattle An'gel and Dickce at all - they put their smart heads together and get to the bottom of the nonsense with a few twists and turns along the way.

I just loved this charming story and I can't wait for the next installment of "The Southern Ladies" mysteries!  Congratulations to Miranda (Dean) James for a job well done!

About The Author:

Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the Agatha Award-winning author of several works of mystery nonfiction as well as four mystery series including the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series including such titles as Out of Circulation, File M for Murder, and Classified as Murder.

My thanks to Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Very Bad Things by Susan McBride - Book Review

About The Book:

A dark, moody, boarding-school murder mystery teens won’t be able to put down.

Katie never thought she’d be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her—but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can’t stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn’t remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, and Mark is in big trouble. Because it looks like Rose isn’t just gone . . . she’s dead.

Maybe Mark was stupid, but that doesn’t mean he’s a killer.

Katie needs to find out what really happened, and her digging turns up more than she bargained for, not just about Mark but about someone she loves like a sister: Tessa, her best friend.

At Whitney Prep, it’s easy to keep secrets . . . especially the cold-blooded kind.

My Thoughts:

Delving into the world of Young Adult writing is not for the faint-hearted, but author Susan McBride makes it look so easy with her latest exciting novel, "Very Bad Things." 

This novel, which is chalk-full of teenage romance, angst, and a bit of murder, is a spine-tingling adventure that even adults will get a thrill out of.  The characters are well-developed and fascinating and the setting is properly spooky. Geared more toward the female readership, "Very Bad Things" would be a great book for daughters and moms to read together (lot of great conversation topics are scattered throughout the book!).

Susan McBride is one of my favorite "grown-up" writers and it's great to see her also succeeding at that YA market as well.  Anything that Susan writes is well worth your time reading!

About The Author:

SUSAN MCBRIDE is the award-winning author of fiction for adults and teens. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her husband, their daughter, and two cats who think they're dogs. You can visit her at www.SusanMcBride.com and on Facebook at SusanMcBrideBooks.

My thanks to the author for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Guest Post by Jodi Thomas, author of "A Place Called Harmony"

I'm thrilled today to host a guest post from one of my favorite authors, Jodi Thomas.

Jodi's new book, "A Place Called Harmony," is set to be released next Tuesday, and in my opinion, is one of her best to date! Below, Jodi talks about the main characters in her new book and how they set the future of a place called Harmony.

Once in a while in my career of forty books, there comes a story I know I have to write.  It waits like an impatient child in the back of my mind for its time to shine.  A PLACE CALLED HARMONY was one of those stories.  As I moved through the Harmony series, getting to know the people of Harmony, Texas, better with each book I knew that someday I’d tell the beginning of their town.  From the day I started writing the characters came through clear.  I had to find men strong enough to influence the generations of Mathesons, Trumans and McAllens.
Many times during the writing of this story I felt all three men standing behind me telling me their lives.  Patrick McAllen, young and full of dreams, thought of it as an adventure and believed love came easy.  Clint Truman felt old at thirty and didn’t believe in love.  When he heard he had to have a wife to get the job, he went to the prison gate and picked the first woman walking out.  And then there was Captain Gillian Matheson who loved his wife but also loved adventure.
All three men were prepared for the challenge of building a town but unprepared for the depth of love they found as they build their families.
I loved writing these men and I hope the readers will follow me into this historical romance.  If you’ve read a Harmony book, you’ll feel like you already know the characters.  If you’ve never read one this book would be a great place to start.  So, step into Harmony for the first time as the three families build a town while they form bonds and loves that last a lifetime.
Enjoy the adventure,
Jodi Thomas

A Place Called Harmony

About The Book:

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas has captivated America with her novels set in the small town of Harmony, Texas. Now she tells the story of the three hard-luck men who first settled the town, a place where last chances and long-awaited dreams collide…

Desperate to escape his overbearing father, Patrick McAllen disappears with his bride, heading north to build a new town—discovering strength, honor and true love along the way.

After drinking away the grief from his family’s death, Clint Truman avoids jail by taking a job in North Texas and settling down with a woman he vows to protect but never love—until her quiet compassion slowly breaks his hardened heart wide open…
All Gillian Matheson has ever known is Army life, leaving his true love to be a part-time spouse. But when a wounded Gillian returns home to find her desperately fighting to save their marriage, he’s determined to become the husband she deserves.

Amidst storms, outlaws, and unwelcome relatives, the three couples band together to build a town—and form a bond that breathes life into the place that will forever be called Harmony.

My thanks to Jodi for taking time out of her busy schedule to write this blog post!

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend Cooking - Tea and crumpets with Agatha Raisin - Book Review of "The Blood of An Englishman" by M.C. Beaton

Shining a spotlight on M.C. Beaton's 25th Agatha Raisin mystery - "The Blood of An Englishman!  And what better way to celebrate than with a lovely cup of tea and a plate of genuine crumpets!  (see below the book description for a wonderful crumpet recipe!)

The Blood of an Englishman (Agatha Raisin Series #25)

About The Book:

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman..."

Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of "Babes in the Woods," Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens and the Ogre disappears in an impressive puff of smoke. Only he doesn't re-appear at final curtain.

Surely this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.

My Thoughts:

While it is often difficult to jump into a series midstream, let alone with the 25th installment, I was pleased to find that I could pick up "The Blood of an Englishman" and immediately join in the fun as amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin (what a cool last name!) and her friends as they try to find out who killed the "Ogre" from a local play production.

I loved the wonderfully cozy English flavor of this mystery, and was charmed with the cast of characters who work so well together.  I'm inspired to go back and read the previous 24 books in this series!  And I highly recommend this one!

About The Author:

M. C. BEATON has been hailed as the “Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail). Chosen as the British Guest of Honor at Bouchercon 2006, she is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four previous Agatha Raisin novels, the Hamish Macbeth series, and an Edwardian mystery series. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between Paris and the English Cotswolds.

Check out her website at www.MCBeaton.com

Curl up with a steaming cup of tea and a plate of these easy-to-make crumpets, and you'll have a wonderful afternoon of reading and snacking!  One of my favorite teas is Stash Teas - they have so many flavors to choose from - I love the English Breakfast Tea and the Raspberry tea that they have!

Classic Crumpets

(recipe from www.greatpartyrecipes.com)
1/2 cup warm water (105° - 115°)
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
In a large bowl, stir the sugar or honey into the warm water. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the top and let it sit until it bubbles, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and let it sit for about half an hour in a warm place.

Grease a griddle or frying pan and the crumpet rings or cookie cutters. Place the rings on the cooking surface and preheat all.

Crumpet and English Muffin Rings, GreatPartyRecipes.comPour about 3 tablespoons of batter into each 3" ring and cook over medium low heat until set, about 10 minutes. (Avoid cooking them too quickly.) The top should be full of holes when they are ready to turn.

Remove the rings from the crumpets, turn, and brown the other side, if desired, for a minute or so. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Makes 16 crumpets.

My thanks to Minotaur Books and Stash Teas for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.com

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by BethFishReads.com  Check out what other bloggers are cooking up and reading! www.bethfishreads.com

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