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Monday, April 24, 2017

Guest Author Post - Lena Gregory

Welcome Ms. Lena Gregory, the author of the new Bay Island Psychic mystery series.  She lives on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.  As far as I know, she is a newly published author and this is her first published series.  

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Whether or not ghosts exist is a big debate in my house. My daughter and I firmly believe in ghosts, while my husband and one of my sons do not. My youngest son, Logan, who is only
six years old now, has no firm opinion yet, but he is part of the reason I believe so strongly. Of course, I had other…encounters before these, but that’s another story.

My younger brother, Chris, passed away when my son was only four months old. Chris and I shared a love of reading, especially mysteries, and I often feel his presence while I’m writing. Chris always had the best hair, thick, full, and loaded with natural highlights. And he always kept it long, at least past his shoulders, even after he became an air traffic controller.

Late one night—we don’t keep normal hours in my house—I was sitting on my bed writing.

My youngest, who was about two at the time, was lying across the bottom of the bed watching his iPad. He looked over, then past me, and frowned. “Who’s that?” he asked.

I turned around but didn’t see anything. “Who’s what?”

“That guy with the long hair?”

I jumped and spun toward the direction he indicated—because, you know, that freaked me out a little—but I still didn’t see anything.

He just shrugged and went back to watching his show as if nothing unusual had happened.

I continued writing, a little spooked but kind of comforted too. I’d always felt Chris’s presence, but Logan kind of confirmed it.

Four generations of my family lived in the same small town, and most of those who have passed on are buried in the local cemetery, so Logan and I often walk through the cemetery, and Logan collects rocks and sticks to leave on the headstones.

One day, while we were walking through the cemetery, alone, he pointed toward a small, closed, locked storage shed in the middle of the cemetery, not far from my mother-in-law’s grave. “I want to go in there,” he said.

“In where?” I asked.

“In that house where the lady just went.”

I’m not gonna lie. We left, then. Quickly. Because believing in ghosts in an odd, detached sort of way is one thing, but I can assure you, having your two-year-old point out a woman entering a locked building in a completely deserted cemetery is something else entirely.

While writing Cass’s story, I tried to keep that debate in mind. Cass sort of believes in ghosts, but she doesn’t believe she actually talks to them. She thinks she uses years of psychiatric training and her uncanny ability to interpret people’s feelings to form a logical opinion and turn it into a “reading.” Of course, her customers think otherwise.

Her friend, Stephanie, believes completely.

Bee is another story. He swears he doesn’t believe in any of that mumbo-jumbo, but he really goes out of his way to avoid anything otherworldly. So, is he a true non-believer, or is he terrified ghosts might actually be real? I’ll leave it up to you to figure it out.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think and if you’ve had any experiences that contributed to your opinion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Gregory.  Well, I spent a few years growing up in a haunted house - until my mother couldn't deal with the stuff that kept happening and we moved...quickly.



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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:
Merlot 
Cabernet Sauvignon 
Chardonnay 
Malbec
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.

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hgz3hfh
B&N:  http://tinyurl.com/j97tc4j
Website: http://littlewineguide.com

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!

COOKING TIP

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 www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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 thealmondeater.com.

Maple Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Dates   

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

Instructions
    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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