Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review:Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory

 Title: Occult And Battery
 Series: A Bay Island Psychic Mystery
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
 Format: Paperback Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 5 out of 5
 Reviewed by: Marlene




Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder... The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.

 But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.

Marlene's Review

This chapter in Cass Donovan's story did not dissappoint. I found the story to be cleverly crafted and dramatically infused. I always love when history and the supernatural intermingle. With the history of the mansion and Cass' own old ghosts coming to haunt her it was truly a great read. Cass doesn't disappoint herself, I love a strong female lead.

 She is quite determined and stubborn. It is a good thing she has her side kicks Bee and Stephanie to help her along. The three of them surely makes for a dynamic team of amature slueths. On the other side are her antagonists, and there is no shortage there.

I felt a mixture of empathy and loathing for the ones on her suspect list. There was a few taht seemed to be a victim of circumstance but when the truth came out the responsible do not deserve empathy. Looking forward to Cass' next story.

 Click the link to purchase on Amazon:

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Maple Sugaring and Mud Season--Oh My! Author Guest Post By B.B. Haywood

Maple Sugaring and Mud Season—Oh My! It Must be March in New England by B.B. Haywood, author of Town in a Maple Madness, available everywhere on April 4, 2017

 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 of 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. END

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert

Title: A Last Chance Olive Ranch
 Series: Book 25 China Bayles Mysteries
 Author: Susan Wittig Albert
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
 Format: paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 Reviewed by Tina



Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of Huntsville Prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there’s only one way to stop the vengeful convict—set a trap with himself as bait.
 
China wants to stay by her husband’s side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid  insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she’s agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.
 
When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza’s nephew is contesting the will. 
 
While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid’s plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid’s life is not the only one at stake—and this time may really be his last chance...

Marlene's Review


China and Ruby don't disappoint. China although always reluctant to use her education and skills always saves the day. I truly understand why China is reluctant to leave that knowledge and the memories of what it was used for and settle for a life more positive and enjoyable. Ruby on the other hand is up to her old habits but this time it may end up different. 

There was more focus on McQuaid, China's husband, in this story then I head read previously, I enjoyed that a great deal. His story line was quite action packed. I liked how a horrific case from his past was brought to the present and how it was dealt with. While China's was more drama and tugged at your heart strings for the character's involved.

On a whole the two story lines kept a good pace and had you rooting for the main characters to come out on top. It was a great predator/prey story.

Click the link to purchase on Amazon.

Giveaway:

Comment below with your email below to win one of a hardcover copy of The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert in the comments.

 If you do not leave your email here on the blog or email acozygirlreads@gmail.com you will be disqualified from winning.


 If you don't want to leave your email here or not able to enter on this blog. Please send an email to acozygirlreads@gmail.com "The last Chance Olive Ranch giveaway" in the subject line.


 The giveaway is open to US residents only


 The giveaway closes April 24 12:00 AM EST Entries will not be counted after Apr 24  12:00 AM EST. The winner will be announced on the blog and Facebook Page and notified by email

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: Caramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay

 Title: Caramel Crush
 Series: Book 9 Cupcake Bakery Mysteries
 Author: Jenn McKinlay
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
 Format: paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
 Reviewed by Tina



When a breakup via cupcake threatens to crumble their friend’s life for good, Mel and Angie race to solve the murder as this New York Times bestselling series continues…

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.

When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…

Tina's Review

Reuniting with my old friends Mel, Tate and Angie I knew I would be in for a fun, entertaining read filled with Mel's wild shenanagigans to solve a murder and much to my surprise Angie's bridezilla moments.

Over the top and wacky characters and the cupcakes don't hurt either.Author Jenn McKinlay manages to come up with a way out there setting for a murder that had me laughing out loud and she also managed to tug at my heart strings with some crazy characters along the way.

Caramel Crush was filled with romance of a magical and left me very emotional. The murderer had it coming and the surprising twist at the end that made my heart sink made me dying to read the next book in the series,Wedding Cake Crumble.

Click the link to purchase on Amazon:


Giveaway:

Comment below with your email below to win one of a hardcover copy of Caramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay in the comments.

 If you do not leave your email here on the blog or email acozygirlreads@gmail.com you will be disqualified from winning.


 If you don't want to leave your email here or not able to enter on this blog. Please send an email to acozygirlreads@gmail.com "Caramel Crush giveaway" in the subject line.


 The giveaway is open to US residents only


 The giveaway closes April 23 12:00 AM EST Entries will not be counted after Apr 23 12:00 AM EST. The winner will be announced on the blog and Facebook Page an





Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Ghost of Cafe Past by Gayle Leeson (author of Silence of The Jams)

 (Silence of The Jams is Gayle Leeson's New Release in A Down South Cafe Mysteries)

I’m not so sure that The Ghost of Café Past is the best title for this post, but it rolls off the tongue a little better than The Ghost of Lunch Counter Past. But please bear with me. When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to Clark’s Drugstore. To me, it was one of the most exciting places ever. (She also took me to the post office where she’d let me turn the tiny knob right and left to the corresponding numbers and then take her mail out of the narrow slot.

 Grandmother knew all the happening places to take a seven-year-old.) Clark’s Drugstore was a magical place—part pharmacy, part general store, part diner. It had glossy magazines, greeting cards, candies, toiletries, makeup, pantyhose, over-the-counter and prescription medications. In addition, there was a lunch counter along the wall to the left of the store.

 Along the counter, there were orange stools where a little girl could sit and spin until she was dizzy. And no one would tell her to stop. It seemed to me that the same woman always took our order at the lunch counter. I can’t remember her name, but I know she had gray hair—big gray hair. She was warm, friendly, and always smiling. She served up the best cheeseburgers and French fries. 

I’d get my cheeseburger with mustard, mayonnaise, and pickle, and that flavor combination always takes me back to sitting beside Grandmother in that small-town drugstore that was part of a strip mall on Main Street. There were some strange characters who also frequented the drug store. Some seemed harmless. Some not so much.

 One man would try to touch me when I strayed too far from the safety of Grandmother’s side. I was terrified of that man and can still remember what he looked like. Fortunately, most of the characters who hung out in that Main Street strip mall were harmless. There was the man who walked the streets either whistling or singing, had a friendly nod for everyone, and who poured his coffee into a saucer to let it cool before slurping it up. And there was the guy everyone thought was “a little off” because he walked around all the time holding a transistor radio up to his ear.

 Looking back, maybe he was just a trail-blazer. How many people do you see walking around these days without an iPod or phone up to their ear? In Silence of the Jams, the Down South Café exemplifies that small-town feeling. The café is in a rural part of town. There aren’t a lot of businesses nearby.

 And there are several eccentric characters who patronize the café. The owner/operator, Amy Flowers, tries to incorporate the best of the old with the new. She continues to serve her customers their favorite comfort foods while encouraging them to step beyond the tried and true and to expand their palates.

 While there aren’t any café regulars portrayed by the creepy man from my childhood, there are villains. In Silence of the Jams, Amy realizes life isn’t as idyllic as it seems when a man is murdered in her café. Now she must try to determine which of the new people who’ve come into her life are trustworthy and which one is a killer.

 Click the link to purchase on Amazon:

Check out Author Gayle Leeson at: http://www.gayleleeson.com/

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: A Frying Shame by Linda Reilly

Title: A Frying Shame
 Series: Book 3 Deep Fried Mysteries
 Author: Linda Reilly
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
 Format: paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
 Reviewed by Tina



Synopsis from Goodreads.com

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 will win her the money to pay off the renovations on her restaurant. But when Norma Ferguson wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more. 
After Norma is found dead at her cooking station, the police suspect a losing contestant got a little too hot under the collar. Now its crunch time as Talia works to catch the killer and clear her name before another cook gets burned. 
Includes delicious recipes!"

Tina's Review

I knew I was in for a delicious mystery with A Frying Shame. Reading about Talia in her Eatery, Fry me a Sliver, cooking up delicious fish and other delectable entries with her friends made me want to be there and be her friend too, it made it a fun mystery.

A fast-paced mystery cleverly plotted and written. My favorite foodie mysteries are ones with cooking competitions. Talia's Deep Fried apple pies was a perfect fit for the cook-off/bake-off.

Maybe I'm a little biased when it comes to foodie mysteries but it's for good reason. Author Linda Reilly writes about food and mystery with perfection.





Click the link to purchase on Amazon.com:                                               

Giveaway:

 Comment below with your email below to win one of a hardcover copy of A Frying Shame by Linda Reilly in the comments.

 If you do not leave your email here on the blog or email acozygirlreads@gmail.com you will be disqualified from winning.


 If you don't want to leave your email here or not able to enter on this blog. Please send an email to acozygirlreads@gmail.com "A Frying Shame giveaway" in the subject line.


 The giveaway is open to US residents only


 The giveaway closes April 10 12:00 AM EST Entries will not be counted after Apr 10 12:00 AM EST. The winner will be announced on the blog and Facebook Page and notified by email

LEGAL

All reviews are copyrighted by Tina Diamond and Marlene Patterson. Tina Diamond's reviews also appear at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com.

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