Share This

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review - Prose and Cons

I reviewed the first book in the series, Crime and Poetry (click here), and this is fast becoming a "must read."  I am attempting to catch up on my past due reviews, I got behind with the holidays.  Whew.

Author: Amanda Flowers

Copyright: Dec 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 2nd in Magical Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery with some paranormal elements

Main Character: Violet Waverly, graduate student in American Literature PhD program

Setting: Modern day, Cascade Springs - New York

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion

From the book cover: October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe in the shop’s back garden to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.

Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead during the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore...

The gang is back with Violet, Grandmother Daisy, persistent Mayor/ex-boyfriend Nathan, tantalizing Police Chief David Rainwater, the writing group Red Inkers play a central role, and the whimsical crow Faulkner and cat Emerson continue to charm.  The character mix is slightly less eccentric and a bit more real than you might expect for a cozy while maintaining the lighter feel.  The characters are welcoming and draw you into their world.

The town continues to provide a rich tapestry for the backdrop and more believable than most "bustling" small towns because of its proximity to Niagara Falls.  I typically have a problem with the usual small town setting that manage small shops with employees and large events, since small towns I've visited struggle to keep shops open at all.  This is more likely in the story with the regular tourist draw of the Falls nearby.  Besides that, the Food and Wine Festival supplies a level of confusion and complication that was utilized nicely.

I was engaged from the first page and that was maintained throughout.  The maze of who the victim really was and possible killers made this second book in the series an iron-strong addition signaling the story-lines will only get better.  I have to say the murder weapon was a surprising twist in itself.  There is a subplot introduced that touches Violet personally that added a deeper dimension.  The balance between characters and plot is perhaps the reason the pacing seemed effortless and smooth.

This had a great killer reveal with a good twist.  I liked it because of the tension and danger that was well constructed, my favorite in a reveal/confrontation.  The wrap-up promises the personal subplot mentioned will be further developed and the Nathan vs. Daniel dilemma is moving towards Violet making a decision.

Ms Flowers writes a novel with finely balanced mix of plot and characters with judicious dashes of magical whimsy topped with a dollop of romance.  Kudos.

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

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mid-Winter's Eve Hop

This is my THANK YOU for following the blog and letting me be a part of your life.

If you are looking for the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop, you are in the correct place and thank you for stopping by.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!

We have 3 packs of 2 books each available to win.

1)  We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany and Frosty the Dead Man by Christine Husom

2)  Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson and Spouse on Haunted Hill by E.J. Copperman

3)  Better Off Thread by Amanda Lee and The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Entry for giveaway lasts until December 31 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you. If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Guest Author Post - T. C. Lotempio

 Welcome Toni (T.C.) Lotempio, author of the Nick and Nora Mysteries.  I have reviewed the first two books in her series and am reading the third currently.  She is about to kick off a new series, the Cat Rescue Mysteries, in a few months.  I'm looking forward to that as well.  Today Toni discusses book covers and how it influences our decisions.

You Can’t’ Judge a Book by its Cover – or can you?

Ever hear the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, it’s not just a lot of words strung together – it’s a lot truer than you might think. In the cold light of day, the harsh reality is a vast majority of readers do indeed use the cover of a book as a deciding factor in not only whether or not they should buy the book, but if they will enjoy it as well.

With millions of books for readers to choose from, the first “sales pitch” is the cover. If it is not striking enough to draw attention, it will be passed over for something more interesting.

The cover is actually the first page of the story. It is here the book communicates to the reader a hint of the story contained within. Color is extremely important. A dark cover, for example, could suggest a dark tale while those with brighter covers might communicate a lighter fare. The cover can speak to the emotion of the reader, encouraging them to take a journey.

A cover can also create preconceptions in a reader’s mind about what the characters or the setting look like. Oftentimes, however, what’s on the cover doesn’t quite match the story. For example, iin Nick and Nora #2, Claws for Alarm, Nick is depicted on the table of Nora’s coffee shop with a cup of spilled coffee spelling out “Help” at his side. Okay, it’s true, the main character owns a sandwich/coffee shop, BUT…the murder and most of the action takes place at an art studio. When they asked me for cover suggestions I thought about having the cat on an easel, the brushes or paint from the brushes spelling out “Help”. Why did they pick the café background instead? “Cafes are a better sell” is what I was told. So often times it’s metrics that will determine a book’s cover, not the actual tale contained within.

Still, a well-designed cover is the first assurance the reader has of the actual quality of the book. A poorly drawn or designed cover can sometimes create preconceptions in the mind of the reader. They might be more inclined to try to spot mistakes in the text, typos or even plot points. Publishers realize the importance of a quality cover and quite often they have special artists for different genres. Cozy covers tend to be more colorful, while thrillers are dark and edgy. More and more authors who have turned to self-publishing now entrust cover design to independent graphic artists to try and ensure bigger sales.

In a nutshell, a great cover design is necessary to draw the reader’s attention and to get them to connect to your book on an emotional level. Great cover designs therefore need to draw the reader’s attention, engage them on an emotional level, suggest the tone and style of the work, and showcase the quality of the book itself. A monumental task, to be sure, but one that could make the difference between a book with lackluster sales and one that hits the NY Times bestseller list.

About the Author…..

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at and

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
 Thank you Ms Lotempio, I know I enjoy the covers.  There is a definite difference between genres as well.  I confess I am fond of cozy mystery covers.  The changes in style over the years is interesting as well.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guest Author Post - Christine Husom

Please welcome Christine Husom, the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series and the Snow Globe Shop Mystery Series, to our blog. 

Frosty The Dead Man, the third book in the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries is  out just in time for Christmas.  Ms Husom gives us a short excerpt as an early present.

Frosty The Dead Man Excerpt

Frosty The Dead Man, third in the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries, continues with most of the same characters it’s been a true pleasure for me to get to know the past few years.

Camryn Brooks is currently managing her parents’ business, Curio Finds, a shop that specializes in snow globes from around the world. Her childhood friend, Alice “Pinky” Nelson runs Brew Ha-Ha, a coffee shop in the building adjoining Curio Finds, and provides comic relief at the oddest times. Their other best friend is teacher and faithful helper, Erin Vickerman. She helps keep Cami and Pinky grounded. Brooks Landing Police Officer, Mark Weston, another forever friend, is there in good times and in bad, often trailing behind the assistant chief of police, Clinton Lonsbury. Clint and Cami agree on two things: they each find the other attractive and irritating at the same time.

When the book opens, Cami overhears Mayor Frost’s having separate conversations with several people who have bones to pick with him. One is a councilman who tells the mayor he’s giving up his seat on the city council. Later that day, Mayor Frost catches Cami completely off-guard when he pays her a visit. Here is a condensed version:

Mayor Frost came rushing into the shop like he was being chased. And with all the controversy swirling around him, maybe he was. He looked around like he was checking to see if we were still alone then moved close to me and lowered his voice. “I want you to submit your name to be considered for appointment to the city council.”

“What?” My ears must have been plugged because what I heard couldn’t have been what he said.

His bright blue eyes shone. “Throw your name in the hat for the council seat that’ll be opening up. You have as much political experience as anyone in town.”

“I worked for a senator researching legislative issues and policies.”

“Perfect! That’s what we need, someone who does her homework.” He clapped his hands together.

Pinky came into my shop and caught what must have been a doozy of a look on my face. And I knew my color was a deeper tone than usual, given how hot I felt. “Cami, are you all right?” She looked from me to Frost. “What’s going on?”

“I just gave her something to consider. To strongly consider. Stop by the office when you get a break, and we’ll hash it over some more.”

And when Cami went to see Mayor Frost later that afternoon, she makes a shocking discovery:

The near silence in the deserted office space was disquieting. It’ll be comforting to talk to a live person, I thought as I walked down the corridor that led to the individual offices. I stopped at the one with the nameplate Mayor Lewis Frost on it. He’d always talked about his open door policy, but it was closed shut at the moment.

I knocked and waited. No answer. I knocked again, a little louder, but still no answer. “Mayor Frost?” I called out and gave the door a final knock. I was about to leave when I noticed the light from his office was showing out from under the bottom of the door. Maybe he had earphones in and was listening to music, or the news, and couldn’t hear me. I’d seen him wearing a pair when he was taking walks.

After I’d convinced myself Frosty was working at his desk, connected to earphones and oblivious to the outside world, I turned the knob and pushed the door open. But he wasn’t at his desk, or anywhere else in sight. His chair was pushed aside, like he’d gotten up and left in a hurry. I was about to turn tail and leave when I saw what looked like the base of the snow globe the mayor had purchased mere hours before. It was lying on the floor near the desk, but the globe wasn’t next to it. What had happened?

I hoped Mayor Frost wouldn’t think I was snooping, but I crept over to see where the rest of it was. And when I found out the answer, there was no turning back. There were broken pieces of glass and wet snow flakes lying next to Mayor Frost who was sprawled out on the floor behind his desk.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Miss Husom for that nice setup and excerpt.  It has me hooked already.

Here is a nice cookie recipe that goes with the "snow globe" theme of the book.

Pennsylvania Snow Drops

1 cup butter 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 teaspoons water 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon orange extract (optional) 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats 
1 (16 ounce) package white confectionery candy coating pieces (optional white chocolate) 
1 cup flaked coconut 
1 teaspoon colored candy sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place butter and confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and well combined. Stir in the water, salt, vanilla extract, orange extract, flour, and quick rolled oats to form a crumbly, dry dough. Pinch off about 1 1/2 tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll into a ball about 1 inch in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are lightly browned, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to a warm temperature.

While cookies are baking, place the confectionery candy pieces into a microwave-safe bowl, and cook in microwave oven with low power for about 10 seconds at a time, stirring once the candy begins to melt, until the coating is liquid, smooth and warm (not hot).

Dip the still-warm cookies in the white coating, and place on prepared baking sheet to cool. Careful, they will crumble easily. Can dip just one side, not entire cookie, if easiest. While coating is still liquid, sprinkle each cookie with flaked coconut. Decorate some cookies with candy sprinkles, if desired. You can also spoon the coating over the cookies while still on the baking sheet before decorating with the coconut and sprinkles.


Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Guest post - Amanda Flowers

Please welcome Amanda Flowers, author of the Magical Bookshop Mystery series along with An Appleseed Creek Mystery, A Living History Museum Mystery, and India Hayes Mystery.  She shares a great recipe with us.

La Crepe Jolie Lemon Madeleine Recipe

In Prose and Cons, Grandma Daisy and Violet Waverly want to provide refreshments for the Poe-try Reading, an event they are hosting to celebrate the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The event will be held at their magical bookshop, Charming Books, during the Cascade Springs Food and Wine Festival, the most anticipated event in the village each autumn. Grandma Daisy enlists the help of La Crepe Jolie, the French café down the street from the bookshop, and among the many treats that café makes for the event are lemon madeleines, Grandma Daisy’s favorite cookies. She says nothing is better with a cup of tea than a lemon madeleine. Enjoy the recipe!

La Crepe Jolie’s Lemon Madeleines


1/2 cup sugar

2/3 sticks of unsalted butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 lemon, juiced and zested

Powder sugar


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter and flour madeleine molds.

2) In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, and butter. After these three ingredients are well blended add flour, baking powder, lemon, vanilla.

3) Spoon batter into molds 3/4 full. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.

4) Remove from molds and cool on a rack.

5) While still warm, dust with powder sugar if desired.


Buy a mystery and help feed a community! Purchase any edition of Prose and Cons book, between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and Amanda will donate $1 for every book sold to a food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio. The Learned Owl is also making a $1 donation to the Landing for every copy the bookstore sells and is selling PERSONALIZED AND SIGNED copies on the novel. They can ship anywhere.

Learned Owl | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | CBD

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio. 

Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts with Thumbnails