Tag Archives: cozy mystery

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Book Review — Demise in Denim

17 Apr

0591ccdc09f18615f320696c61a955edWhen Reagan Summerside turned the first floor of her old Victorian home into a consignment shop, she never imagined she’d be harboring a fugitive in her attic. But after a dead man is found in a bathtub and local lawyer Walker Boone is accused of doing the dirty deed, she suddenly has a new houseguest.

Purchase a copy of Demise in Denim HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

10917865_733950283342411_129660116418082754_nDuffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She has two cats, Spooky and Dr. Watson, her license plate is Sherlok and she conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. Duffy’s national bestselling Consignment Shop Mystery series is set in Savannah and the Cycle Path Mysteries are set on Mackinac Island.

My Impressions:

Demise in Denim is the 4th book in Duffy Brown’s Consignment Shop Mystery series. Set amid the historic squares of Savannah, it is all that a cozy mystery should be. Colorful and quirky characters, a curious and meddlesome amateur sleuth, a hunky love interest and a mystery full of twists and turns are all found in this novel. Told from the first person perspective of Reagan Summerside, proprietor of the Prissy Fox consignment shop, the novel can be read as a standalone.  With an interesting mystery, Demise in Denim could be used as a guide to local cuisine! Reagan and her many sidekicks fuel their investigation with meatloaf sandwiches from Parker’s, barbecue from Wall’s and late night snacks of Tabasco popcorn from Pinkie Masters Lounge. Demise in Denim is a fun and flavorful read, but be aware there is some profanity.

While many of the sites noted in Demise in Denim do exist, there were a couple of eateries that are purely ficitional. But the food really does need to be real! So in honor of Cakery Bakery’s sprinkle donuts and best friend Chantilly’s mac and cheese, here are two recipes you can make yourself.

Baked-Funfetti-Donuts-1.-These-taste-just-like-your-favorite-sprinkled-donuts-at-the-bakery.-And-theyre-so-simple-to-make-at-home-3Cakery Bakery Sprinkle Donuts (courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

DONUTS
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (gives them that “bakery donut” taste)
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt*
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
GLAZE
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
extra sprinkles to sprinkle on top, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

For the donuts: whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the milk, yogurt, and egg together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the sprinkles gently to ensure they do not bleed their color. I use these rainbow jimmies and they do not bleed.

Spoon the batter into the donut cups—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease, as pictured above. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2 ∕ 3 –3 ∕ 4 of the way full.

Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the donuts to slightly cool before glazing. I find the glaze “sets” easier onto cooled donuts.

For the glaze: combine the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk until the glaze is smooth. Remove from heat and immediately begin dunking the donuts, one by one, into the glaze. I simply dropped each donut into the saucepan and moved it around to coat evenly. Transfer each donut to a wire rack over a baking sheet to catch the glaze drippings. Take each donut and dunk again if you have enough glaze leftover. Sprinkle with additional sprinkles.

Donuts taste best eaten the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 2 days.

Additional Notes:

*Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or rice milk is OK.

*Sour cream or nonfat, low fat, vanilla, plain, Greek, or regular yogurt is OK.

*You may make this recipe into 8-10 muffins using a muffin pan. Bake at the same temperature for 18 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

IG1009_Grown_Up_Mac_and_Cheese.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeChantilly’s Mac And Cheese (courtesy of The Barefoot Countessa)

Ingredients
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

 

(Thanks to Duffy Brown for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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Book Review: A Stitch in Crime

4 Feb

773650Thea’s first quilt show is coming apart at the seams!

Thea James has accepted an assignment as co‑chairperson for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she’s already feeling frayed when things start to unravel.

Mary‑Alice Wentworth, a much‑loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea’s dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick‑off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds?

When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale’s reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before Mary‑Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.

CElliott-284Author and speaker Cathy Elliott nourishes her night‑owl habit by creating cozy mysteries and more on her trusty laptop in Anderson, California. Like the protagonist in her new mystery, Cathy is an avid quilter. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antique treasures.

 

My Impressions:

Generally, I gobble up cozy mysteries, the quirkier the better! However, I had a slow go of it with Cathy Elliott’s A Stitch in Crime, the final installment in Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series. Quilts are definitely front and center in this novel and the avid quilter will love all the references to quilting patterns and paraphernalia. The mystery was suitably mysterious, and I didn’t have a clue whodunit until he/she was unveiled. Characters are as colorful as the quilts. But this book lacked a certain something for me. I just didn’t connect with main character Thea, who is a thirty-something single woman. Thea is by turns whiny and fussy making me feel she was either much younger or much older than she actually was. The language is at times a bit too clever, bordering on the corny. I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. However, lots of other bloggers did. I recommend you check out Reviews from The Heart for a more positive review.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Abingdon for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! Recipe for Murder by Lisa Harris

16 Jan

Some books make me hungry for more, literally! Often books include recipes or feature characters who cook up mouth-watering creations. So once a month I plan to feature a book I have recently read with a recipe that goes along with it. Here is my first feature — Recipe for Murder and Lemon Crumb Cake, courtesy of main character Priscilla Crumb.

hsm-recipe-for-murder-cycle-1-2008Pricilla Crumb’s guest list has just turned into a suspect list . . . for murder. Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, but that’s exactly where she finds herself when one of the guests at her son’s hunting lodge is found dead after sampling one of her salmon-filled tartlets. Determined to discover the truth, this unconventional busybody follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and suspense along the way.

My Review HERE.

 

exps47862_THHC1757657D33CLemon Crumb Cake (courtesy of Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (15-3/4 ounces) lemon pie filling

Topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Reduced-fat vanilla ice cream, optional

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, beat the first five ingredients until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into buttermilk mixture until blended. Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in baking pan coated with cooking spray. Drop pie filling by teaspoonfuls over batter.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in almonds; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

3. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

Yield: 20 servings.

 

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Book Review: Recipe for Murder

31 Dec

HSM-Recipe for Murder Cycle 1 2008Pricilla Crumb’s guest list has just turned into a suspect list. . .for murder. Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, but that’s exactly where she finds herself when one of the guests at her son’s hunting lodge is found dead after sampling one of her salmon-filled tartlets. Determined to discover the truth, this unconventional busybody follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and suspense along the way.

 

harrislisAward-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has twenty novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, where they work as missionaries.

Visit her website at http://www.lisaharriswrites.com and her blog at http://www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com.

 

My Impressions:

Recipe for Murder is a quick cozy mystery featuring sixty-something Priscilla Crumb. Newly retired and helping out at her son’s Colorado lodge, Priscilla is on the hunt for a murderer. Between cooking for the guests and figuring out her attraction to long time friend Max, Priscilla irritates the police and her suspects. But her intuition is almost as good as her homemade treats.

Lisa Harris has created a fun character in Priscilla. She combines nosiness, loyalty and faith in God. She draws on her years of teaching at a school and reading mystery novels to observe and deduce. Sometimes clueless and naive and sometimes insightful, Priscilla is never boring. If you like a cozy mystery with a touch of romance and a faith message, then try Recipe for Murder. And if you enjoy it, it is the first book in a 3 book series — more Priscilla Crumb to enjoy!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: It Came Upon A Midnight Crime

9 Dec

Image-31-193x300Someone is intent on destroying the true meaning of Christmas—at least, destroying anything that hints of it. All around crime-scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire’s hometown, anything pointing to Jesus as the “reason for the season” is being sabotaged. The crimes become more twisted as dismembered body parts are found at the vandalisms. Who would go to such great lengths to dampen the joy and hope of Christ’s birthday? Someone’s determined to destroy Christmas . . . but Gabby St. Claire is just as determined to find the Grinch and let peace on earth and goodwill to men prevail.

of50480480-200x300Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She’s married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She’s only won one contest in her life–and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay… actually she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). Her current claim to fame is showing off her mother, who looks just like former First Lady Barbara Bush.

When she’s not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and exploring small, unsuspecting towns where people have no idea how accident prone she is.

My Impressions:

In my quest to whittle down my Kindle TBR List, I am reading through my Christmas category. I was in the mood for a little cozy mystery along with my Christmas fix, so I chose Christy Barritt’s It Came upon A Midnight Crime, book 2.5 in her Squeaky Clean Mystery series. This 8.5 book series features Gabby St. Claire, crime scene cleaner and forensic investigator wannabe. It is not necessary to read the first 2 books in the series, but it would be helpful to begin at the beginning to get all the relationships straight and clue in on Gabby’s faith journey.

Gabby is a seeker/sceptic. Science is what she trusts, not faith. But she is keeping her mind open, especially since her hunky neighbor is a believer. Called to clean up a Nativity massacre, Gabby embarks on a search for the person trying to sabotage Christmas.

It Came upon A Midnight Crime is a very quick read. The mystery is light and light-hearted, but there are glimpses of why opponents of Christmas feel the way they do. I liked that Gabby kept an open mind and heart to those injured by Christmases past. I didn’t guess just whodunit, but the clues are there for those as astute as Gabby. All in all, a good diversion for those seeking to escape the hectic holiday prep.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below. It is currently .99 for Kindle!

Book Review: Death Dangles A Participle

3 Nov

364382When the reckless teenaged Rousseau brothers, J.T. and Dustin, attempt to cross a frozen Lake Champlain in their ancient VW, what they find plunges them into hot water, not cold. Their guilt in a brutal murder is obvious to everyone except English teacher Amelia Prentice Dickensen, freshly returned from her honeymoon with new husband Gil, who is determined to find the clue that will prove them innocent: a single bullet.

Despite a falling out with best friend Lily, parents irate over a low grade, a missing cat, and a strange illness that strikes when least expected, Amelia is determined to find the truth. Unless she is frozen out by an equally determined murderer . . .

 

ellen-kennedy-300x240(From Goodreads) As a teen, E.E. Kennedy nursed the dream of being a Broadway star, but since she couldn’t stand rejection, she chose being a writer instead. (Who knew?) Life has been kind to E.E. She’s married to an inventor who understands the creative process. She’s the grandmother of 5 children whose cuteness really cuts into her writing time!

She decided to start writing when she ran out of Agatha Christies and couldn’t find anything else she wanted to read. “Okay,” she said, “I’ll write something I’d want to read.” And she did. On alternate days, she thinks her work is brilliant and miserable, but she keeps at it and is grateful for her gracious publisher, Sheaf House, who seems happy to publish her mysteries. Her mission statement is a hokey one: “wholesome entertainment”.

 

My Impressions:

Death Dangles A Participle has everything I could want in a cozy mystery — quaint small town setting, fun characters, a puzzling mystery and a determined sleuth. It is also a clean read with a faith message subtly woven through. An added bonus is that the amateur detective is an English teacher who silently (at least sometimes) corrects the grammar of everyone with whom she comes in contact. This is fun, quick escape fiction at its best!

Miss Amelia Prentice is now Mrs. Dickensen, something of which she has to continually remind people. Married life suits her, but there are a number of adjustments to old relationships and habits. But when two of her students are accused of murder, the old Amelia decides to do some investigating.

I really enjoyed E.E. Kennedy’s second book in the Miss Prentice Mystery series. Like her first book, Irregardless of Murder (you can read my review HERE), the ever observant Amelia begins investigating when she thinks the authorities are dragging their heels. Quick-witted and shrewd, she nevertheless gets into trouble when the bad guys discover what she’s up to. Although the novel can be read as a standalone, I recommend you begin at the beginning. I’m sure Miss Prentice, er Mrs. Dickensen would approve! All three books in the series are available and are only $2.99 each on Kindle!

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase the books in this series, click on the images below.

Book Review: Dying to Read

29 Aug

721580Cate Kinkaid is just dipping her toe into the world of private investigating until one of the many resumes she has floating around lands her a real job. All she has to do is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? When the big and brooding house happens to contain a dead body, this routine Pi job turns out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?

 

 

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Lorena McCourtney is a long-time resident of Southern Oregon and enjoys using Oregon settings in her books. She wrote numerous short stories for children before moving on to romances and now to mysteries, often with a bit of humor. She won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Mystery “Book of the Year” and twice won the Daphne Du Maurier Award of Excellence.

 

My Impressions:

When I read and reviewed Death Takes A Ride last month (review HERE) I knew I had to go back to the scene of the crime, er, first book in the series. Dying to Read, book 1 in Lorena McCourtney’s Cate Kincaid Files is a great place to start for those who love cozy mysteries. Cate, who is new to the PI business, gets her man, along with getting into life threatening situations. But this is a cozy series, so you know that the good guys always prevail and that there will be a good dose of humor as well.

Cate has her first assignment from her uncle’s PI agency — find the current address of a young woman for her family. But right from the start, Cate knows she is in over her head. A dead woman, a book club full of suspects as well as a tree-hugging missing housekeeper keep Cate looking into the mystery long after she discovers the address. Along the way Cate is continually mistaken for one of the suspects and finds herself in trouble and a budding romance. A lovable deaf cat also plays a big role in the action.

Cate is a great character. She has had some disappointments in life and love and is unsure where to go next. Her PI gig is only temporary, or so she thinks. But her inner instincts keep Cate going. Maybe she really should be a PI! The other characters add color and enough quirk to be funny, but not so much that they strain credibility. Moral issues, such as one character’s problem with telling the truth, are death with in a tongue in cheek naturalness that is never preachy. Cate’s faith is also natural — just the way she lives her life.

So if you are looking for a fun cozy mystery, start with Dying to Read. You won’t be sorry, especially since there are two more books in the series!

Audience: Older teens to adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.