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Friday, December 24, 2021

Review - Body and Soul Food

Happy holidays my dear readers.  I will have a holiday book next for review.  Today, from the author of the Ice Cream Parlor mysteries comes a new cozy mystery series.  "In this page-turning new mystery series, fraternal twins Keaton and Koby will pull double duty when they take down a killer while preparing to open their new bookstore and soul-food café, Books & Biscuits."  Here is a guest post from the author (click here.)  Read on to find out more about this new series.

Abby Collette

Copyright: Nov 2021 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Books & Biscuits Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, Amateur sleuth

Main Character: Keaton Rutledge, Co-Owner of bookstore and soul-food café, Books & Biscuits 

Setting: contemporary Timber Lake, Oregan

Obtained Through: Netgalley for an honest review

Book Blurb: "When Koby Hill and Keaton Rutledge were orphaned at age two, they were separated, but their unbreakable connection lingered. Years later, they reunite and decide to make up for lost time and capitalize on their shared interests by opening up a well-stocked bookstore and cozy soul-food café in the quaint Pacific Northwest town of Timber Lake. But this new chapter of their lives could end on a cliffhanger after Koby's foster brother is found murdered.

The murder, which occurred in public between light-rail stops, seems impossible for the police to solve. But as Keaton and Koby know, two heads are always better than one, especially when it comes to mysteries. With just a week to go before the grand opening of their new café, the twins will use their revitalized connection with each other to make sure this is the killer's final page."

Keaton Rutledge was the fortunate twin who got adopted by estabished and well-to-do parents.  Koby Hill, her fraternal twin, wasn't as lucky and went through the foster care system. He finally found Mama Zola as a foster mother and he flourished, never forgetting he had a twin out there to find.  Mama Zola, Koby's foster mom, is the break-out character I loved.  Imogene, Keaton's adoptive mother who is a psyhchologist, gets out of her head a little and shines as well.  Reef Jeffries, the murder victim, was flirting with Keaton and seemed an all around good guy who clearly liked her a lot.  Reef was also why Koby knew he had a twin because Reef (six years older) told Koby that a girl had come into the first group home with him.  Georgie Tsai, tattoed cooking assistant, and Pete Howers are the only employees.  Homicide Detective Daniel Chow suspects Keaton and Koby and pushs them a little but comes through in a pinch.  

My Thoughts: The plot was interesting and took some unraveling. I liked that the victim wasn't the usual horrible person but a good guy making his way (sad, too).  The fraternal twins having been separated at birth added a lot of depth to Keaton and her twin brother Koby.  The food descriptions are mouthwatering. The climax had some great tense moments as Keaton and Koby realize who the killer is at nearly the same time.  The writing is comfort food itself and enveloped me.  This is a new favorite series and I look forward to many books to follow.

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

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Review - An Eggnog to Die For

I'm just now getting into some holiday themed mysteries that I had planned on reviewing a few weeks ago.  I am just going to roll with it, which means even after the 25th I will probably still be reviewing some to stretch out the holiday season!  First up is a foodie themed holiday cozy mystery, check this out.

Amy Pershing

Copyright: November 2021 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 2nd in Cape Cod Foodie mystery series

Sensuality: mild, kissing

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, Amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Samantha Barnes, chef turned restaurant critic for Cape Cod Clarion

Setting: Contemporary, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Obtained Through: Netgalley for honest review

Book Blurb: "Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a certain handsome harbor master; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately she’s got family visiting, she’s spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.
Plus, Sam’s plans for Christmas Eve are getting complicated.  There’s the great eggnog debate among her very opinionated guests.  There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate.  And there’s her Feast of the Five Fishes prepare. Nonetheless, Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa—but can she pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?"

Samantha is 6-foot tall, extroverted, clever, sarcastic, and easily relatable with a relentless curiosity-but she does some risky things.  She has an overly large dog name Diogi, always a hit.  Friends include Helene Greenberg, her nextdoor neighbor and the town librarian, Jenny Snow Singleton is a friend since childhood,  Miles Tanner is an old high school friend and local organic farmer, and Krista Baker is the publisher of the Clarion and old friend.  Her parents, Robert and Veronica Barnes, were the prior Clarion editor in chief and senior journalist, burst into town for the holidays.  Dad is secretive about something he spends time on and Mom is asked to do an article on the murder who thinks there is promise in a mob angle--further complicating Sam's holiday.  Introverted Jason Captiva is her old and new boyfriend who is the town harbormaster.  Sam's extroverted ways are struggling with Jason's introverted tendencies.

The main plot is finding the killer who killed Santa.  There are several subplots including keeping her mother out of trouble as she writes an article on the murder for the local paper, hosting and cooking a multiple-course Christmas Eve dinner, and navigating her confusing relationship with Jason.  Bad Santa knew a lot of people's secrets and had plenty of victims lined up to stop with his sanctimonious "doing the right thing" ways.  So there were plenty of red herrings.  Sam takes risks with her suspected killer suspects, which is out of character for an otherwise smart woman.  She goes through a few people she is convinced is the killer before she hits on the real killer. 
The killer confrontation is an example of best laid plans going awry (Sam was going to confront the killer safely). This provided a few tense moments that I enjoyed.  The wrap up finished up with family and friends.  It left me feeling a bit empty without all the characters that filled the book

My thoughts: If you enjoy cozies with lots going on outside of the sleuthing, then this will be a good book for you.  There is the still developing relationship with the harbormaster and her visiting parents to juggle, holiday errands, baking cookies and decorating them for the tree with her friend and three boys.  Additionally, her working for the paper and trying to keep her mother from investigating the mob angle while planning the details for a big holiday feast with friends invited keeps her busy.  Then her parents are going through her house and attic cleaning and rearranging etc.  Foodie talk with cooking tips/hacks are interspersed throughout the book, which I suspect most readers will enjoy.  

The characters are well drawn and portrayed with a mystery that keeps you guessing who did it.  The only downsides are how I found I didn't like that Sam refers to her parents as her ‘rents which is very annoying to me.  Am I the only one who doesn't like "sich/sitch" short for situation and 'rents short for parents etc?  Sam does do some risky things with who she suspects as the killer, but I still enjoyed her character.  Overall, I am glad to have discovered this new series and I'm looking forward to the next installment.  

Rating:  Excellent - Fun and entertaining holiday mystery, give it a try.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mystery Movie Review - The Saint

Most people never knew that the Val Kilmer "The Saint" originated as a series by Leslie Charteris who was a British-Chinese author of adventure fiction, as well as a screenwriter.  The books were published from 1928-1963.  From 1963-1983 other authors collaborated on a few of the books and then after Charteris' death, continued to write the books.  There are 50 books in the series all told.  The books have Simon Templar very solidly British.  I have read a few of the books.


The Saint was a popular television series in its day.  I was fortunate to catch both the black and white 60s version and the color 70s version on classic TV reruns.

The Saint (1962–1969 – Roger Moore)

Return of the Saint (1978–1979 – Ian Ogilvy)

The character has also been portrayed in radio dramas, comic strips, comic books, and three television series.  Roger Moore, who later became the first James Bond, played Simon Templar on television which likely helped him get the Bond role.  Simon Templar was known as the "Robin Hood of modern crime".

Three of the actors to play Templar — Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy on television and Simon Dutton in made-for-TV movies in 1989 — have been appointed vice presidents of "The Saint Club" that was founded by Leslie Charteris in 1936. It is still going strong more than seventy years later. Simon Templar is, of course, the President of the Club, with Leslie Charteris being the Vice-President until his death in 1993, when he was succeeded by Roger Moore, Ian Ogilvy and Simon Dutton. All proceeds from the membership fees and the sale of merchandise go to charities nominated by the Vice-Presidents.

The Big Screen

The big Hollywood movie was released in 1997.  Rated PG-13 for action violence, brief strong language, some sensuality and drug content.  I classify this as a thriller with espionage touches.

Starring Val Kilmer, Elizabeth Shue, and Rade Serbedzija. Directed by Phillip Noyce.

What it's about

Simon Templar (The Saint), is a thief for hire who was raised in an orphanage. Simon Templar isn't even his real name.  His latest job he is contracted to do is steal the secret process for cold fusion (a clean energy source) that puts him at odds with a traitor bent on toppling the Russian government, as well as kill the American electrochemist who holds its secret.  This Russian oligarch/mobster intends to keep this energy source for his own enrichment and powergrab to become a dictator.  Simon manages to develop feelings for the pretty electrochemist and must outwit the Russian mobster before the worst happens and it irreversibly crushes the US.

There is a boat load of interesting tidbits about the movie.  Here are a few from IMDB:

  • Elisabeth Shue was nomimnated Favorite Actress in Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for her role.  It won the BMI Film and TV Award for Film Music.
  • Val Kilmer turned down returning to the Batman franchise after the box-office smash Batman Forever (1995) due to his commitment to this movie.
  • Roger Moore (the first TV Simon Templar) features throughout in cameo as the BBC Newsreader heard in Simon Templar's Volvo radio.  
  • The poetry written by Simon Templar's long-haired artist character, Thomas Moore, was actually written by Val Kilmer.  Kilmer's S. African accent for this character was learned from a South African assistant with whom he worked on The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), the movie he completed before he started filming this movie.  
  • The last fourth of the movie originally had a very different outcome, but test audiences really didn't like it.  So they rewrote and reshot all those scenes.  
  •  There were rumors that Kilmer was difficult on set. But Elisabeth Shue and producer Mace Neufeld denied Kilmer's misconduct, praising his professionalism and dedication, eventually working seven days a week during re-shoots three months before this movie's release.  
  • A Volvo P1800 can be seen parked directly outside Simon's apartment building in London. This was the type of car driven by Simon in The Saint (1962).  
  • They used an updated version of the theme tune, and having appeared in numerous post 1960s television adaptations of the Saint, serves as one of the most frequently and longest lasting theme tunes of a media franchise.  
  • The nickname "Boris the Spider", used by Ivan Tretiak (Russian mobster) to communicate with the Saint, is a reference to a 1966 song by The Who, written by bassist John Entwistle.  
  • Sir Kenneth Branagh, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of Simon Templar.
  • When Val Kilmer does his southern voice, for one of his many voices, he sounded just like he did when he portrayed Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993).

Rotten Tomatoes 30% Although audience score is 63%

The critics didn't like the screenplay but credited Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue for their performances.

My Thoughts:

This is an example of when I disagree with Rotten Tomatoes and many of the critics.  I would have given this 80% personally.  It was never going to win an Oscar, but I don't think that was ever the goal.  The screenplay wasn't too far from the books in the big picture.  I will grant you that some of the dialog could have been better and there were a few attempts for humor that didn't ring true.  The Elizabeth Shue character,  electrochemist Dr. Emma Russell, comes across a little quirky and even naive at times but I felt that was endearing.  Also, the portrayal of Russia after the Soviet Union fell isn't far from the reality of the country being run by former KGB thugs taking over the energy industry (oil in reality) and being obscenely wealthy while the people scrape by.

I thought Val Kilmer, Elizabeth Shue, and Rade Serbedzija were especially good in their roles.  Rade Serbedzija is really good as the would-be dictator Tretiak.  I am so glad Val Kilmer did the role because I can't imagine any of the actors who turned down the role could have embodied Simon Templar like Kilmer did.  I give him major kudos.

If you are looking for an espionage-thriller for a fun two hours, grab the popcorn and Twizzlers because this is your movie.  If you saw it back in 1997, I suggest you revisit it.  

I have read several of the books and can't help but compare to the movie.  The movie takes some liberties, as they often do, leaving the source material behind.  Beyond updating Simon Templar, I think they did a good job of translating the idea/concept of the books into a large scale movie.  Here are some examples of the differences.

  • The book Simon would never have taken a job to steal a cold fusion (energy source) equation from the scientist who developed it.  That is the basis of the movie and it isn't in character for the Saint of the books.
  • At one point Kilmer's Saint is in a hand-to-hand fight and is forced to flee; this would never have been allowed in the books. Although it does make Simon more realistic which was a must for modern audiences.
  • Although the Saint in the books did go up against powerful criminals and corrupt governments, even Nazis in three books, he was primarily a thief with a penchant for the underdog.  That gets lost in the movie.
  • The original Saint resorted to aliases that had the initials S.T. as a subtle reference to Simon Templar, but the screenplay's character used Christian saints, regardless of initials.  This ties into the movie backstory of his being an orphan and in a Catholic orphanage with the name John Rossi.  The book's Simon Templar (his real name) had very little backstory.  The movie goes a long way to flesh out Simon's character and the orphange helps, but the saint tie-in seemed like they were stretching to connect the nickname "The Saint" with the character.  In the books, the nickname is because he was a Robin Hood meets Equalizer archetype.
  • The movie Simon didn't kill during his mission, and even his main enemies lived, but the book's Simon had no issues about taking another life when push came to shove - like the Equalizer.  I must clarify that the book's Simon picked his jobs carefully and they were usually against very unsavory people to begin with. 
  • Also, in the books, Simon had a girlfriend, Patricia Holm, who was adventerous and knew, in general broad strokes, of Simon's activities.  This is nothing like the scientist he is romantically involved with in the movie.
  • In the book the stick figure with a halo is Templar's logo that is on his "calling card" he leaves behind after one of his jobs.  The movie has this being a stylized stick-pin gifted to him at the end of the movie.

This is one of my "just for fun" movies to kick back and watch.  I have lost count of how many times I've seen it. Enjoy.

Here is the movie trailer:

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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Review - In the Company of Witches

I found this when I was gathering Halloween-ish reads and didn't finish it soon enough.  But this book doesn't need the spooky holiday to read it.  The author, Auralee Wallace, also wrote the Otter Lake mystery series with St. Martin's Press that I will have to dive into now.   I am delighted to share my review of this new mystery series with you.

Author: Auralee Wallace

Copyright: Oct 2021 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery series

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Brynn Warren, Widow and witch who can commune with ghosts 

Setting: Contemporary, Evenfall Connecticut

Obtained Through: Netgalley for an honest review

Book blurb: "For four hundred years, the Warren witches have used their magic to quietly help the citizens of the sleepy New England town of Evenfall thrive. There's never been a problem they couldn't handle. But then Constance Graves--a local known for being argumentative and demanding--dies while staying at the bed and breakfast Brynn Warren maintains with her aunts. At first, it seems like an accident...but it soon becomes clear that there's something more sinister at work, and Aunt Nora is shaping up to be the prime suspect.

There's nothing Brynn wants more than to prove Nora's innocence, and it hurts her to know that even two years ago that might have been easier. Brynn, after all, is a witch of the dead--a witch who can commune with ghosts. Ghosts never remember much about their deaths, but Constance might remember something about her life that would help crack the case. But Brynn hasn't used her powers since her husband died, and isn't even sure she still can. Brynn will just have to hope that her aunts' magic and her own investigative skills will lead her to answers--and maybe back to the gift she once thought herself ready to give up forever."

Brynn Warren, has withdrawn from the world ever since she lost her husband, not really dealing with her grief. As a result, her ability to speak with the dead has left her.  Aunt Nora (Evanora) Warren is a garden witch, bold, rebellious, opinonated, and stubborn.  Aunt Izzy, is a kitchen witch, is nurturing, and kind.  Then there is Uncle Gideon who can see both the past and the future but it overwhelms him so he stays indoors like a hermit.  Nixie is a witch hunter who attempts to make friends with Brynn, claiming she just wants to be friends and see magic. Then there is the contentious family of the deceased Constance. Faustus is the family's Maine Coon cat and Dog is the crow that hangs out with the family.  They are fantastic additions.

Ivywood Hollow B&B is a lovely victorian home, yet Constance's Graves House, while being nearly a mirror of Ivywood is creepy and dilapidated.  The homes provide great settings for the story to unfold. Small town Evenfall sees its residents picking sides with either the Warrens or the Graves family as the finger points to Nora.  This does feel like a small town indeed.

The mystery is well done and unfolds amid Brynn dealing with her grief and anger over never getting to see her husband's ghost to say goodbye, and Nora's stubborness digging her hole deeper. Brynn's investigation moves forward as tensions rise in town.  Everything happening keeps the pages turning.

 The killer confrontation was simple but effective and showed the Warrens sticking together.  The wrap-up was touching and bittersweet.

My thoughts: There is a subtly presented drama about family and the difference between a supportive and nurturing family verses destructive interpersonal problems. This gave the cozy a bit more depth, along with Brynn dealing with her grief, without becoming too serious.  The witchy aspects are more like a lighter version of the movie "Practical Magic" if you removed the scary haunting. This is a great example of the character driven cozy mystery.  It's a delightful and well written story that demonstrates cozy mysteries are developing into a genre with more to contribute than solely a fun read.

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

Here is a very short introduction to the author.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Review - Doggone Deadly

I have read other books by Deborah Blake.  Her Veiled Magic series (click here) and her Baba Yaga series (click here) were great.  This is her second in her new cozy mystery series and I jumped at the chance to read and review it.

First book: Furbidden Fatality (click here)

Author: Deborah Blake

Copyright: Nov 2021 (Berkley) 288 pgs

Series: 2nd in Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, Amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Kari Stuart, lottery winner and new owner of  pet shelter 

Setting: Contemporary, Lakeview New York

Obtained Through: Netgalley for an honest review

Book blurb: "When the woman running the big regional dog show calls out sick, dog groomer Suz Holden is asked to take over. But it’s too much for her to handle by herself— considering the president of the kennel club, Olivia Weiner, criticizes her at every turn—so she calls in her best friend, Kari Stuart, for help.

A long, stressful day goes from bad to worse when a local breeder is found dead, and the murder weapon seems to incriminate Suz.

While Kari knows her friend isn’t guilty, the police aren’t so sure, especially after a second murder points to Suz again. But trying to run a dog show and investigate a murder at the same time is like herding cats, and Kari will have to rely on the rest of the Serenity Sanctuary staff to keep things running smoothly while she—and her beloved and clever kitten, Queenie—sniff out the truth."

Kari Stuart is finding fullfilment in fixing up the beleaguered pet shelter she purchased. She is loyal and determined.  Suzanne (Suz), is her supportive best friend and a dog groomer with lavender colored hair who is the main assistant running the dog show.  Shelter volunteer Sara Hanover is a retired ninth-grade English teacher who is somewhat a mother figure.  Bryn, a younger volunteer training to be a Vet-Tech, gets more page time in this book.  Angus McCoy is a local veterinarian who volunteers his time to the shelter and is the potential love interest.  A little black kitten, Queenie, is the star of the show with personality and a sixth sense. Queenie helps in the investigation in a very natural way.  

The majority of time is at the kennel club regional dog show with the shelter and a few trips to investigate in or around town or with Kari at home.  The dog show is used well as the hectic stage for the story.  

The story has a good pace that kept moving and thus I had to read "just one more page".  If you have been with me on this blog for a while, you know I love tense or nail-biting killer reveals.  Although this didn't have that sort of unmasking of the murderer, it was very effective none-the-less.  The wrapup leaves you with a smile and looking forward to returning to Lakeview and Kari very soon.

My thoughts: All around a good mystery with interesting characters that you miss when the story is done.  The writing style is clean and draws you in effortlessly.  Queenie, the kitten, is written so you question whether she is helping solve the murder or is that just giving her too much credit.  Sneaky!  I love this new series and it is now on my list of "must-read" books.

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

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Author Guest Post - Amy Pershing

Please welcome Amy Pershing to M&MM blog.  She is a new author with the equally new Cape Cod Foodie cozy mystery series.  My review will be coming shortly.

The Eternal Mystery of Weird Holiday Food by Amy Pershing

Holiday food traditions – we all have them. Whether we like them or not. You mess with your mother’s Christmas cookie recipes at your peril. You serve Uncle Harry’s oyster stew, even though it makes your kids gag, because you love Uncle Harry. You stuff dates with chunky peanut butter as an appetizer (really?), because your husband (whom you also love, even though during the holidays that’s sometimes hard to remember) made them with his mother on Christmas day “to help out.”

In my latest Cape Cod Foodie mystery, An Eggnog to Die For, my heroine, Samantha Barnes, wants to honor her Italian grandmother on Christmas Eve with the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. Except Sam wants to make it a Feast of the Five Fishes. As she puts it, “Okay, so traditionally it’s seven fishes or even twelve. But times have changed. The holidays are stressful enough. Christmas Eve should be fun.”

Now, you may think that eating five, or seven or, god forbid, twelve fishes in one sitting to be, let us say, a bit odd. But it pales beside this (highly subjective) list of other peculiar holiday food traditions:

1) Pfeffernuse: I begin with the worst offender of the Christmas cookie obsession -- the pfeffernusse. First of all because it is impossible to spell. Or say. And second, because a key ingredient is pepper. In what cookie world does that make sense? Also, my husband claims that because the cookie is virtually coated with powdered sugar, “before you can even eat it, you breathe that stuff in and then choke to death.”

2) Eggnog: As the author of a novel with eggnog in the title, I have gotten an earful from my readers about the great eggnog debate, yae or nay. I’m pleased to say most are yae. Mostly because it is dessert masquerading as a before-dinner drink, as Sam points out in the book:

“I wish I’d made enough for two glasses each,” my mother said, smacking her lips in a decidedly un-regal fashion.

“No way,” I admonished her. “First of all, I’m not killing everyone’s appetites with what is essentially dessert in a glass and second of all, two rum cocktails and we’d never get this tree trimmed.”

“Nonsense,” Helene put in from her seat on the sofa next to my mother. “Drink up.”

I’m with Helene.

3) Latkes: On the plus side of holiday foods, we have the Hannukkah starter of latkes –potato pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream. Yum. But I’d never quite understood why so much of the traditional Hannukkah foods are cooked in oil until researching this piece, when I discovered that it symbolizes the Second Temple oil that miraculously lasted eight days. Not that I’m complaining about all that frying. I’d eat an old boot if it was deep-fried.

4) Roast Goose: With so many choices for the centerpiece of the Christmas day feast – roast beef, turkey, even ham – why would you go for roast goose? I mean, aside from the fact that roast goose is delicious. My mother once decided to cook a goose for Christmas, only to come back into the kitchen to

a waterfall of goose fat streaming from the stove. That’s right – a five pound goose releases more than four cups of melted fat. So unless you want to drain the roasting pan every half hour for two hours, you might want to stick to a nice dry turkey.

5) So many desserts: Let’s start with panettone, the very dry northern Italian “cake” that comes in its own cardboard carrying case. I think it is no accident that one food historian called panettone “one of the infamous holiday sweets.” On the “infamous” list I would also include fruitcake, which is soaked in alcohol or other liquors to keep it from molding. Need I say more? Along the same lines, we have the Christmas pudding (aka figgy pudding), which I confess I love, mostly because you set it on fire. Nothing odd about that. And finally we come to my absolute favorite holiday sweet, Hannukah gelt, those little chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Golden chocolate. Perfect.

I’m sure you all have your own Weird Christmas food traditions. Celebrate them! They carry with them generations of family lore and love. (And remember, you can always give Aunt Ida’s fruitcake to a neighbor.)

Amy Pershing is the author of the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series, including A Side of Murder -- which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” -- and An Eggnog to Die For -- which Kirkus Reviews called “a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens." She’s here today to talk about An Eggnog to Die For and to explore what on earth our pets must think about our holiday traditions.

You can follow Amy on her website,, on Facebook and on Instagram and sign up for her newsletter, News from the Cape Cod Foodie, here.

An Eggnog to Die For can be ordered from: 

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Monday, November 15, 2021

Author Guest Post - Abby Collette

The author of the Ice Cream Parlor mysteries has a new series, Books and Biscuits mysteries featuring a bookstore and soulfood cafe.  I will be reviewing the new debut book soon.  Abby Collette is our guest author today.  Please give her a big welcome.

Fiction & Food by Abby Collette

Good food, like good books and good friends is something we savor. All of those make up the stories of our lives and fill the spaces in our memories. We smile whenever we recall them, but the eating of good food often evokes special times and special people.

And good food starts with recipes—those handed down or hand created from the heart. It’s not just peach cobbler, it’s the peach cobbler that your grandmother taught you to make. Or a recipe that you picked up while traveling on a road trip cross country or across the ocean and those for each seasons. The dishes we made to commemorate the good times, milestones and celebrations.

That’s what I love about including recipes in my books.  After all, a good book should offer a reflection of life, and how could I do that without including great food? The recipes are those enjoyed by my characters but are also there for the delight of my readers. I don’t include food just as a social transaction to add beats to my story but to make my characters more real and part of the world you enter when you open one of my books. I put on the page the actions of my characters as they conjure up the recipes and the process—slicing juicy plums, scooping out fresh vanilla. And although I am leading the reader through the clues to solve the murder of my mystery, it is worth stopping the story to share with my readers. I want all to enjoy with my characters the swirling smells inhaled, the pleasures that delight their taste buds and the delectable goodies their eyes take in. Immersing the readers in their five senses and to let them into my characters life to participate in all aspects of my story.

So, the next time you pick up one of my stories, enjoy the good food while your reading and then try out one of the recipes after you’ve done. Then let me know how it all turned out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank You Ms. Collette for joining us today!  I'm looking forward to your book.  I'm looking forward to your recipes!

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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Review - Miss Moriarity, I Presume

I have been a fan of this series that re-imagines the Sherlock mythos since the debut: 

1) A Study in Scarlet Women (click here)  

2) A Conspiracy in Belgravia (click here

3) The Hollow of Fear (click here)

4) The Art of Theft (click here

5) Murder on Cold Street (click here

Author: Sherry Thomas

Copyright: Nov 2021 (Berkley) 365 pgs

Series: 6th in Lady Sherlock Mystery series

Sensuality: Innuendo and adult period references

Mystery Sub-genre: historical Suspense, historical detective

Main Character: Charlotte Holmes, Charlotte Holmes, disgraced upper class woman who creates the Sherlock Holmes identity 

Setting: 1886 London and Cornwall

Obtained Through: Publisher (NetGalley) for honest review

Book blurb: "A most unexpected client shows up at Charlotte Holmes's doorstep: Moriarty himself. Moriarty fears that tragedy has befallen his daughter and wants Charlotte to find out the truth. 

Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel to a remote community of occult practitioners where Moriarty's daughter was last seen, a place full of lies and liars. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s sister Livia tries to make sense of a mysterious message from her beau Mr. Marbleton. And Charlotte’s longtime friend and ally Lord Ingram at last turns his seductive prowess on Charlotte—or is it the other way around?

But the more secrets Charlotte unravels about Miss Moriarty’s disappearance, the more she wonders why Moriarty has entrusted this delicate matter to her of all people. Is it merely to test Charlotte's skills as an investigator, or has the man of shadows trapped her in a nest of vipers?"

Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, very feminine and frilly, and goes up against the diabolical Moriarity in this book.   Lord Ingram Ashburton is in the process of divorcing his (literally) traitor wife and is embarking on a more intimate relationship with Charlotte.  Mrs. John Watson, is a retired stage actress who has become Charlotte's unique and talented sidekick.  She is required to use her acting prowess in this book.  Charlotte's adult younger sister, Olivia, is key to discovering a message from her estranged love intended for their half brother, Myron.    

A good portion of the story takes place in the walled and secluded compound for the Garden of Hermopolis commune.  This is creepy and atmospheric. 

From the beginning Charlotte and cast know that Moriarity is setting Charlotte up for tragedy.  So the plot is two part, look in on the daughter (going as Miss Baxter) and also beware of the danger at every turn.  A third aspect is Olivia's love, who is Moriarity's estranged son (recently in his father's control again), is attempting to pass very subtle clues to her and she is stretching her own reasoning skills to figure it out.   

 I can't really discuss the climax without spoilers, suffice to say that Charlotte must figure out the reality of the pieces and strategies in this chess game with Moriarity besides that he intends for her to die. I will leave it at that.

My Thoughts: This is not the book to jump into the series.  It is a culmination of much from book two forward. I appreciated Olivia getting to flex her own reasoning skills in this book.  As usual, this was intricately plotted and well executed. I enjoyed this tremendously and if you have been a fan of the series, this is a must read.  There are some big twists.  I have to wonder where the series will go after this.

Rating:  Excellent - a must read for fans

Here is a talk with the author about the book.

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Monday, November 8, 2021

Author Guest Post - Deborah Blake

Please welcome the author of the Baba Yaga series, Veiled Magic series, and also the new Catskill Pet Rescue series.  

Series Inspiration by Deborah Blake
I am often asked where I get the inspiration for my books. The answer to this is different for every book, of course, but for the Catskill Pet Rescue Series, I didn’t have to look very far from home.

The series as a whole was inspired by a local rescue organization I’d done a little volunteer work for. It was started by one woman who was determined to help all the animals who fell through the cracks of the other shelters in the area. It started on a shoestring, and still is mostly a volunteer run mission filled with people dedicated to the wellbeing of cats, dogs, and the occasional something else. Two of my four cats came from them (including Diana, who was a foster fail—remind me that I am not a good fit for fostering, since I want to keep them all).

So the first book in the series, Furbidden Fatality, tells the story of how Kari, the protagonist, ends up buying a rundown shelter after she gets a freak lottery win and a bossy little black kitten. The second book, Doggone Deadly, follows Kari’s adventures with her best friend Suz, a six-foot tall, gay, lavender-haired dog groomer.

The look of the character was inspired by Megan Rapinoe, the dynamic Olympic soccer player, but the character herself was inspired (loosely, of course, since this is fiction, and she is neither six feet tall, gay, nor lavender-haired) by my own best friend, Ellen. Ellen is both a dog groomer and the dog warden of her local rural municipality, and has been my secret weapon for dog information throughout the series.

When I was looking for an intriguing setting for Doggone Deadly, I remembered that Ellen, as a member of the area’s Kennel Club, has taken part in a number of yearly dog shows. These events drew competitors and judges from all over the country and could be surprisingly cut-throat. What better place to set a murder? She was even able to lend me a program book from one of the shows, which ended up featuring in the story, as well as helping me figure out a number of plot points.

It turns out that if you are an author, it pays to have interesting friends. In fact, I might go so far as to say it is doggone vital.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THANK You Deborah for that delightful insight into your inspiration for the newest addition to your Catskill Pet Rescue series.  

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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Book Spotlight - Miss Moriarity, I Presume

This week the latest book in the Lady Sherlock series released.  I will have a review as soon as I finish reading it.  But in the meantime, here is a taste of what the book is about.  

"Charlotte Holmes comes face to face with her enemy when Moriarty turns to her in his hour of need, in the USA Today bestselling series set in Victorian England.

A most unexpected client shows up at Charlotte Holmes's doorstep: Moriarty himself. Moriarty fears that tragedy has befallen his daughter and wants Charlotte to find out the truth. 

Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel to a remote community of occult practitioners where Moriarty's daughter was last seen, a place full of lies and liars. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s sister Livia tries to make sense of a mysterious message from her beau Mr. Marbleton. And Charlotte’s longtime friend and ally Lord Ingram at last turns his seductive prowess on Charlotte—or is it the other way around?

But the more secrets Charlotte unravels about Miss Moriarty’s disappearance, the more she wonders why Moriarty has entrusted this delicate matter to her of all people. Is it merely to test Charlotte's skills as an investigator, or has the man of shadows trapped her in a nest of vipers?"

I am a fan of the series, so I will have the review for you shortly.  

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Monday, November 1, 2021

Author Guest Post - DP Lyle

I am delighted to have DP Lyle as our guest author today. From his bio: "He is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning; and Edgar (2), Shamus, Agatha, Anthony, Scribe, USA Today Best Book Award (2), and Foreward INDIES Book of the Year nominated author.  He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars."  

DP Lyle writes the Jake Longly thriller series, Cain/Harper thriller series, Dub Walker thriller series, Samantha Cody thriller series, and Royal Pains books (TV show tie-in novels), plus several non-fiction books on forensics and a few anthologies.    

The OC, the 5th in Jake Longly series, just released.  DP Lyle provides us with an introduction of Jake in his post. Please welcome DP Lyle to M&MM!

Who is Jake Longly? by DP Lyle

Jake Longly is the protagonist of my comedic thriller series (DEEP SIX, A-LIST, SUNSHINE STATE, RIGGED, THE OC). He’s an ex-pro baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball until a rotator cuff injury ended his career. He then purchased Captain Rocky’s, a bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

His major life goals now are running his bar and chasing bikinis. Worthy goals for Jake. His father Ray feels otherwise. Ray has some murky background in the US military world of black ops and now runs a P.I. firm in Gulf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him and is constantly trying to drag Jake into his world.


Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks.

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment.

~ ~ ~ 
Jake has an ex-wife. who he affectionately calls Tammy The Insane. We met her at the beginning of DEEP SIX, Jake #1. Jake has been roped into doing a stake-out of an adulterous woman who happens to live a few doors down from Tammy and her now husband attorney Walter Horton. Tammy takes issue with Jake being near her home.


I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day.

She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.

Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.

But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

~ ~ ~ 
Jake has a girlfriend. Nicole Jamison. Insanely beautiful, but no bubble-headed bleach blonde. Not even close. Smart, clever, tough, and she doesn’t suffer fools well. They met the same night Tammy The Insane shattered Jake’s Mustang window.


I raised one hand to shield my eyes from the headlamp glare. The car, a shiny new red SL Mercedes, rolled to a stop. The deeply-tinted window slid down, revealing a young woman. Her straight blond hair hung like silk curtains to her shoulders and framed a face that could grace the cover of Vogue. Definitely not what I expected.

“That was interesting,” she said.

“You saw that, huh?”

She laughed. Soft, almost musical. “Hard to miss a woman beating the hell out of a classic Mustang with a golf club.”

I looked back up the street, from where she had come. “You live around here I take it?”

She brushed a wayward strand of her from her face. “Just back around the bend.”

“You on a beer run or something?”

Another soft laugh. “Heading out to see a friend.”

“A little late, isn’t it?”

“He’s a bartender. Doesn’t close up until one. But he’s not nearly as interesting as this.”

“Bet he’d be happy to hear that.”

She shrugged. “He’d get over it.”

I reeled in my first response—that a woman as beautiful as her probably didn’t have to worry too much about pissing him off. No one would put her on the road for being late. Instead, I smiled.

“So what was that about?” she asked.

“My ex. She’s insane.”


“I’m Jake,”


~ ~ ~ 
Jake has a best friend—-Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Big doesn’t cover it. He’s six-five and 275, with unruly red hair and crazy computer skills. He also knows how to handle any confrontation.

From A-LIST:

“Good day gentlemen,” he said, smiling. A true salesman. Probably would do well with aluminum siding. Or as a midway barker.

We introduced ourselves, Ray saying we were P.I.s and needed to ask a few questions to which Rag Man said, ““I don’t got to talk to you.” His head swiveled up and down the street. Like he didn’t want to be seen talking to us.

“No, you don’t,” I said. “But we’d appreciate it.”

“Go appreciate something else,” he said.

“It’s about your business,” Ray said.

“I ain’t got no business.” Another glance up the street. “I suggest you move along. Get out of my face. Might not be healthy for you white boys to hang around here. Know what I’m saying?”

I love watching Pancake work. It’s a true work of art. Mostly he’s a gentle giant, wouldn’t hurt anyone. Even go out of his way to avoid trouble. Then there were times he did stuff that made you stare in disbelief. Even if you’d seen it before.

This time, he simply grabbed Rag Man’s arm and tossed him into the alley. Just like that. Like a kid having a tantrum and tossing a doll across the room. Rag Man rolled and bounced a couple of times but to his credit quickly scrambled to his feet. Pancake was on him. He poked his chest with a finger. “No, I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Hey dude, you can’t do that.”

“I’m just getting started.” Pancake palmed his chest, pressing him against the wall.

~ ~ ~ 
And now we come to the 5th in the series: THE OC.

Jake and Nicole are headed to Orange County, CA for a little R&R. Of course, it doesn’t work out that way.

From THE OC:

“She likes you.”

“Everybody likes me.”

“Yeah, but she likes you in that I-want-to-sit-on-your-lap way.”

“So do you.”

“Hmmm. Sounds like a plan.”

“These seats aren’t that big.”

Okay, a little perspective here. I’m Jake Longly, ex-pro baseball player, restaurant/bar owner, and lover of women. Well, the one sitting next to me anyway. That would be Nicole Jamison. Funny, smart, and insanely beautiful. Sometimes annoying. Actually, she excels at that.

We were seated in first class, Row 5, Seats A and B, on an American Airlines flight into Orange County, California’s John Wayne Airport. The OC, baby.

We had started out early this morning in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where my restaurant Captain Rocky’s sits on the sand, and where we both live. This trip was in part a vacation from—I’m not sure from what. I work very little. My manager Carla Martinez runs the joint so I have essentially zero to do. Except hang out with Nicole and Pancake. Nicole is my girlfriend, or whatever. We haven’t yet decided what we are. Let’s say, she likes me. See? I told you everybody likes me. Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers is my best friend. All the way back to when we terrorized the neighborhood as kids. He likes hanging out at Captain Rocky’s too. Mainly because the food and drink are free.

My god, that boy can eat. Gnaws on my profits. If there are any. I’m never very sure since Carla rarely tells me. I don’t worry too much about it since the place is always packed. Also, I share the profits with her, so I figured that if we were bleeding out she’d let me know.

Nicole, besides being smart and hot, and at times snarky, also writes screenplays. That’s the other reason for our trip to the left coast. Her new film was teed up to begin shooting in three weeks. Her other two screenplays had been minimalist productions, indies that made it to a couple of small film festivals. This one was on an entirely different level. It would be shepherded by her uncle Charles Balfour, the A-list producer and CEO of Regency Global Productions, RPG for short. He’s the driving force behind the multi-billion dollar Space Quest series. Yeah, billion with a B.

Me and Uncle Charles go way back. I’ve never actually met him but I’ve spent many a night in the home he owns near Gulf Shores. That’s where Nicole lives. Or hangs out anyway.

Nicole also lives in The OC, in a Newport Beach condo, but she’s rarely there. For the past year or so, that’s how long we’ve been together, she’s mostly stayed in Uncle Charles’s mega-mansion very near my Gulf Shores home.

“These seats aren’t that small,” Nicole said.

“There’s no leg room.”

“That’s because you have long legs.”

“You don’t?”

She laughed. “If memory serves, you do pretty well in tight spaces.”

I looked at her “I’ll let that one slide by.”

The flight attendant returned, smiling, saying, “Can I get you anything?” Her gaze locked on me for a beat too long. Her name tag said she was Maryanne.

“I think we’re good.” I smiled back.

She moved on down the row.

Nicole elbowed my ribs. “See? What’d I tell you?”

“Maybe she’s using me to get to you?”

“Could be. Maybe I should be glad you have the aisle seat,” Nicole said.

“Pancake’s better at running interference. He’s built for it.”

“In this situation, I think you’ll do fine.”

~ ~ ~ 

I invite you to jump into Jake’s world. Lot’s of crime, craziness, and fun.

DP Lyle's social media information:

Thank you Dr. DP Lyle for joining us today.

If you would like to know a little more, here is an interview with Dr. DP Lyle on the Authors on the Air Vodcast.

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