Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dream A Little Scream ( Dream Club Mystery Book 2) - Mary Kennedy, Author



Kahlua Brownies

(Author Mary Kennedy sent 200 pounds of these
to the troops in Iraq over a 3 month period)

½ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup Kahlua

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.
Step 2
In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder and kahlua. Spread batter into prepared pan.
Step 3

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  16 servings

Dream A Little Scream - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Ali and Taylor Blake are sisters.  Ali owns a candy Shop in Savannah, Ga called Oldies But Goodies.  Taylor arrived in Savannah a few months ago to find the vintage candy shop, just a couple of blocks off the Historic District, struggling.  Between the two sisters, changes were made, they invested in some marketing, added a cafe menu, and things were looking up.  They had bone from the red to the black and felt sure their changes would keep it that way.  That is until they agreed to host a book signing for cookbook author Sonia Scott.  The turnout was great and everything was going just as planned until Sonia starts complaining that her chest feels so tight she can hardly breathe.  Apparently she is allergic to cats, and Ali owns two.  But when Sonia's employee Olivia explains that it was something besides the cats, something much worse.  And when her EpiPen turns up missing, nine-one-one was called.  Apparently, Sonia is allergic to more than cats.  She is also allergic to nuts of any kind.  But everyone who made snacks for the signing knew this and would never have put nuts into their dishes, or would they.

Taylor and Ali are part of a group they call The Dream Club.  They meet weekly in the apartment above the shop, and they serve sweet tea, coffee, and a delicious array of pastries.  She calls the Dream Club members their "beta testers," and she adds the most popular items to the cafe menu downstairs.  With what has just happened to Sonia, it's time to call an emergency meeting of the club's members, which were all present at the signing anyway, to see if they could put their heads together and solve yet another mystery.

Dream A Little Scream had so many twists and turns that each time I thought I knew who the culprit was I found myself doubting my ability to determine the good guys, or gals, from the bad.  And I must say this is the norm for Author Mary Kennedy.  I've read just about everything she has written and am always hoping for more.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Vegas Lies ("Lies" Mystery Thriller Series Book 3) - Andrew Cunningham, Author


ANISETTE COOKIES
(Andrew Cunningham - My wife’s mother—the greatest baker in the world--used to make them every Christmas)

2 ½ Cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon anisette
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening

Cream shortening, add eggs one at a time. Beat well. Add flour, salt, and baking powder (all sifted together). Add milk. Add anisette.

Put on greased pan (each one about a heaping tablespoon size). Cook 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Glaze:

Mix confectioner’s sugar and milk to make a thick glaze
Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze

While the glaze is still wet, cover with sprinkles or nonpareils

Vegas Lies - Book 3 - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Emma began to cry.  Lucy nuzzled up against her in an effort to comfort her friend, but there was no comfort, just abject fear.  If his hand being there had been so unpleasant, what would the other thing be like?  Slowly the crying subsided, only to be replaced with anger.  No, she wasn't going to let that happen to her.  It would be far worse than death.  She was going to find a way to escape, and if she couldn't, she was going to die.  

Five young teenage girls from the small town of Vista, Oregon disappeared in the same night.  At first it was thought that the five friends, who were coming home from a movie, had run away together, escaping the stifling atmosphere of small-town America.  But once it was determined that they were all reasonably happy, fairly well-adjusted young people, the focus shifted to the unthinkable.

Peep was Mo's partner.  Even though they didn't live together, they had been a couple for about five years.  Peep was in Las Vegas for a trade show.  Sabrina and Del are on their way to Las Vegas for a BookExpo.  Sabrina, a best selling mystery author, hates the publicity that follows her but had agreed to take the trip and had also promised Mo that she and Del would meet Peep for dinner the night of their arrival.  For some reason Peep never showed up.

As Author Andrew Cunningham combines the stories of the missing teenagers as well as the disappearance of Peep, the tension grows.  Where is the connection between the missing girls and Peep?  Can they all be found before it's too late?  And who is behind the disappearances?  These, plus many more questions popped into my head as I read, yet another, suspense filled book in this series.

So, if you enjoy a good page turner, full of twists and turns, don't miss out on this book.  It's one that kept me up late at night reading just to see what happens next.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Death Orchid: Hawaii Thriller Book 2 - J. E. Trent, Author



Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

1 small package small elbow macaroni

1 cup mayonnaise (best foods is best)
1 tablespoon finely minced onions
2 tablespoons finely minced celery
1 small carrot finely minced
salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together and enjoy!

Death Orchid: A Sam and Jessica Novel (Hawaii Thriller Series Book 2) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Ivan Volkov's plan was for Jessica Kealoha to die a violent death while he watched it on his laptop computer in the air-conditioned comfort of his hotel room.  He had stalked Jessica for a week after he landed on the island.  The first thing he did was to attach a custom-built GPS track to her Jeep after he had followed her to the grocery store.

Fifteen minutes after picking up Aimee, Jessica turned off the highway and headed down the hill toward lower Keauhou.  Noticing her speed, she stepped on the brake pedal to slow down before the curve in the road ahead.  Nothing happened, except a sharp pang in her gut caused by the fear of not being able to stop.  She pressed the electronic parking brake switch with the same results, nothing.  They were headed down one of the steepest roads in Kona, Kam lll.  She and Aimee were most likely going to die if she couldn't get the jeep stopped before the bottom of the hill.

Jessica is a retired detective from California who has moved back to her home on the Islands.  She never expected to find herself in the position of having a hit put out for her by some of the most feared people in the world - the Russian Mofia. 

This book is full of action and will keep you turning the pages just to see what will happen next.  Plus, Author J. E. Trent writes with a quality that I rarely find.  He writes short chapters which, to me, makes reading much easier.  This book is also filled with vivid descriptions of the Islands, making you feel like you're there seeing them for yourself.  I've loved every book I've read by this author.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Deader Homes and Gardens - Southern Ghost Hunter Book 4 - Angie Fox, Author


Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Gravy

6 pound whole chicken
1 3/4 cups Swanson® Chicken Stock
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Roast the chicken according to the package directions.  Remove the chicken from the roasting pan. Pour off any fat. Stir the stock and flour in a medium bowl with a fork until the mixture is smooth. Add the stock mixture to the roasting pan. Stir in the rosemary. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Serve the gravy with the chicken. 

Deader Homes and Gardens - Review by Martha A. Cheves

I tried to make light of the gossip, hoping that with time I wouldn't care, but deep down it hurt that my greatest fear had come true.  I was the town oddball, the flake, and nobody understood that I was really just a good Southern girl aught up with a 1920s gangster ghost.  It wasn't like I wanted to be this way.  it had happened when I'd accidentally tampered with the funeral urn of a cranky prohibition-era whiskey runner named Frankie.  His urn looked a lot like a vase, and his ashes like dirt.  So I'd dumped him out over my favorite rosebush and rinsed him in good.  Not knowing the dirt was...him.  It hadn't helped that I'd filled his final resting place with water from the hose and inserted a fat red rose.  But that was before I realized my error.  Or what rinsing his ashes into the ground would do.  My actions trapped Frankie on my property.  He couldn't leave unless I brought his urn with me.

My name is Verity Long.  I moved back to my home time with the plans of marrying.  That didn't quite work out but I did find myself spending much of my time chasing ghosts and in the arms of my ex-finance's brother Ellis who is also a deputy sheriff with the Sugarland Police Department.  Breaking off my engagement found me not only broke but I also had to sell off everything but the house my grandmother had left me just to make ends meet.  Now I've just been offered my first paying job.   With Frankie's help the task should be profitable and a breeze.  I simply have to rid an 1886 estate called Rock Fall of it's ghosts.  An easy task.  Yeah right.  No one really explained to me how evil these ghosts could be nor that there was also a curse attached to the house.  After all the whole family had died within days of each other.  How dangerous could this curse be?

Deader Homes and Gardens is Book 4 in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  I've read the three before this one and have had a hard time putting them down.  They hold my attention with a combination of humor as well as my mystery and suspense.  It is a fun series of books and I'm now looking forward to reading Book 5 - Sweet Tea and Spirits.  Each book stands alone but I don't think you'll want to miss reading them in order to keep you up-to-par on who is who.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Death in Paradise - J. E. Trent, Author


How to Boil an Egg That is Easy to Peel
  1. Don't put eggs in pot until water is boiling. This is key. If you put eggs in water and bring to a boil the eggs will be hard to peel.
  2. Boil water. 
  3. Put eggs in and cover. 
  4. Let boiled 11 to 13 minutes.
  5. Put eggs in pan of cold water and let sit 5 miniutes. 
Boiled eggs will be easy to peel now. 


Death in Paradise - Review by Martha A. Cheves


As Jessica walked up the stairs leading to the front door, she could feel his presence.  Even though he wasn't there, she felt his spirit, and a warm feeling rushed over her as she walked through the front door.  Jessica felt the mana to her core.  The house was like he always kept it.  Neat, but nothing fancy  It was typical Hawaiian style, with rattan wicker furniture and a canoe paddle hanging on the wall in the living room.  The decor was an early vacation rental, except for the front door, which had a Mako shark carved into it.  Since the mana of the shark was important in Hawaiian culture, her dad figured it was a good omen for the place.

Mike Murphy had taken his plane out only to have it crash in the lava pits.  His daughter Jessica went to work for the Los Angeles Police after leaving the islands.  The death of her father had her, as well as her two sisters Pua and Jasmine.  He was always one for safety and checked his plain from end to end before flying.  So, how could this have happened.

After going home to the island Jessica found there were several reasons that may have caused her father's death.  The biggest one was a man named Mr. Lau.  He was a Chinese billionaire from Macau and he had been buying up property all over Hawaii in the hopes combining his property Ming with Murphy's Aloha Village and creating a gambling casino when gambling became legal in Hawaii.  Problem was, Mike Murphy refused to sell.

This book is a fast moving novel that is filled with VERY believable and possible happenings.  It digs into corruption of not only the police but those higher up too.  The characters are believable due to Trent making them 'human' with problems of everyday life.  It also give you some of the history of the islands.  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading book 2 in the Sam and Jessica Crime Novels.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction - Amy Metz, Author


Better Than Sex Cake

1
box chocolate cake mix
2 medium eggs
1/4 c water
3/4 c oil
1 pkg 10.5 oz tub caramel
4 pkg heath bars
1 pkg whipped topping

Directions
1. Bake cake as directed on box
2. Let set for 5 - 10 minutes or until warm
3. Poke holes with fork or knife
4. Cover with caramel, let set for 3 - 5 minutes
5. Top with cool whip and cover with Heath bars (crumbled) or Heath chips


Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction - Review by Martha A. Cheves


"But Squirt, the man had evidence.  He told me so, right before I killed him.  I laughed at him at the time.  Laughed right in his face; thought he was bluffing.  He said he took precautions and one day the world was going to know what a yellow-bellied coward I was.  It wasn't until after I killed him that I found the note in his pocket.  It said, 'Maye, if you're reading this I must be dead.  Look in the chest, Maye.  It's all there.' Of course I threw the note away and his woman never knew about it.  But I know he was telling the truth.  He had something, some kind of proof.  I'm afraid it's going to surface some day and ruin all y'alls lives.  Look in his house.  Promise me, Squirt, that you'll find and destroy the eidence before it destroys our family.  I don't want y'all saddled with my dirty deeds for the rest of your life.  Promise me...find the evidence John Hobb hid, and promise me you'll destroy it."  "I promise, Papa," the young man said, followed by a sob from his throat.

Tess Tremaine is a recent divorcee that was looking for a new place to start a new life for herself.  She found that new life in a small town called Goose Pimple Junction.  All goes well for her as she starts to get to know the people, with one exception and that exception is the language.  She found that just because you meet someone, which is called 'howdied' doesn't mean you've really met them until you 'shook.'  Or when someone tells you to 'get your straw out of my Kool-Aid' it means to mind your own business.  And you'll never guess what you ordered when the waitress calls out for the cook to 'Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it.'  That one is really quite simple.  It's a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion.  These are just some of the life changes Tess must get use to if she expects to find her life in Goose Pimple Junction.  She also has to solve a mystery that seems to revolve around a key that she found in her new home.

This book switches from the 1930's to the present with happenings way back then still taking a hold on the town and its residents.  The language, both past and present kept me laughing, as did some of the names but when I read the acknowledgements for this book I learned that the happenings from the 30's were actually true.  The present, not so much but both still made for a very enjoyable read.  I found myself hurting for some of the characters of the past but for the most part, laughing when it came to the now day characters.  Now I'm ready to read Book 2 in this series which is titled Heroes and Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Soul Food Spirits (Southern Ghost Wranglers Book 1) - Amy Boyles, Author


Quick Yeast Bread

2 tablespoons yeast (or 2 x 7g pkts)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm-hot water
14cup cooking oil

Put 4 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into large bowl.
Pour in hot water and oil and mix until combined- it will be sticky.
Add the remaining flour in increments until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is elastic and smooth.
Place dough back into bowl and cover with a damp teatowel and let it rise until double its size- about 1/2 hour.
Punch it down and divide dough into two pieces.
Roll pieces long enough to fill two well oiled loaf pans and leave to rise until dough has reached the rim of the pan.
Bake at 400F for 40 minutes.

Rub hot breads with water and wrap in a teatowel to'sweat' to soften the crust.

Soul Food Spirits (Southern Ghost Wranglers Book 1) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"Blissful, you're suspended."
My heart popped out of my chest and hit the floor with a thud.  "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
Then Anita, the woman who had bested me for my dad's job by sleeping with his superior, who spoke to me like I was three years old, who had the audacity to put a picture of her with my father on her desk, slowly opened her mouth and enunciated every single syllable.
"Blissful.  You.  Are.  Suspended."  Her eyelids popped open.  "I've got the paperwork already filled out.  You are now officially not a member of the Ghost Team.  You have been suspended."


My dad's death a few months ago left an oozing wound in the establishment he helped create - The Ghost Team.  With the help of secret funding from the government, my dad, Vince Breneaux, created a crew of highly capable, clairvoyant agents whose single mission was to seek out rouge spirits, those hellbent on attacking and plaguing the living, and sent them on to the other side - the light, as we call it.  Naturally, since my father had been director of said team, when it came to promotion time, I was a shoo-in.  But, as I said, Anita got the job instead of me and she has had it out for me from day one.  Now she has decided to suspend me.  And the only way I can hopefully prove my worth is to the beautiful town of Haunted Hollow and bring in one of the most feared spirits ever - Lucky Strike.  Even my father couldn't bring him in and send him to the light.

Blissful's first day there turns out to be a disaster when she decides to have lunch at the Soul Food.  It seems that one of the spirits in the establishment takes a liking to her and starts up a conversation.  Since Bliss can see her but the other customers can't she decides to carry on a very 'light' conversation with her. But as it turns out, the more they talk the more visible the spirit becomes.  This causes everyone in the restaurant to see her with most of them taking pictures of both Bliss and the spirit with many being posted to the internet.  So much for trying to stay in town without being noticed.

This book was a joy to read.  It's filled with humor as well as tons of ghosts - both good and bad, or so they appear.  And the same can be said for some of the living residents too.  I enjoyed Book 1 so much that I can't wait to read book 2.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fatal Lies (Lies Mystery Thriller Series Book 2) - Andrew Cunningham, Author


ANDREW'S FAMOUS CARROT CAKE
His only claim to fame!
(and he stole it from his mother, who stole it from a neighbor…)

1 1/4 CUPS OIL
1 1/2 CUPS SUGAR
2 CUPS FLOUR
3 EGGS
2 tsp CINNAMON
2 tsp BAKING SODA
2 tsp VANILLA
1 tsp SALT
1 BAG COCONUT (7 oz)
2 CUPS GRATED CARROTS
20 OZ. CAN CRUSHED PINEAPPLE (INCLUDE JUICE)

MIX ALL TOGETHER AND BAKE AT 350 FOR 1 HOUR IN GREASED 9X12 PAN


FROSTING:

6-8 OZ PACKAGE OF CREAM CHEESE
CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
1 STICK MARGARINE/BUTTER
VANILLA

BLEND CREAM CHEESE AND BUTTER/MARGARINE, THEN ADD CONFECTIONERS SUGAR UNTIL IT'S SO SWEET YOUR TEETH DROP OUT (ABOUT 1/2 A BAG OF SUGAR).  ADD VANILLA TO TASTE.

**Walnuts can also be added to recipe, but since they make my ears tickle, I don't use them.

Fatal Lies (Lies Mystery Thriller Series Book 2) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Sabrina, if you are reading this, I am dead, and it means they killed me.  I've spent my life having nothing to do with them, but if they finally put an end to this miserable existence they caused, then I want them to pay.  Maybe my last act in life will help provide Veronica with the life I was never able to have.  The key is for a safe deposit box in your name and mine.  The address of the bank is on the pouch the key is in.  The contents of the box will explain everything.  I'm sorry this is so cryptic.  I just want it far away from Veronica and her children.

Sabrina Spencer spent six years of her life in prison for killing her abusive husband.  After being released, she, with help from the love of her life Del, has become one of the nation's hottest mystery writers.  Her life in prison is the past and a life she no longer wants to relive nor deal with, but when the daughter of a woman from her prison days contacts her with a message that was to be delivered should she die, a whole world of deception and mistrust opens up for Sabrina and Del.

I have to admit that I read this book several years ago and loved it so much that I've just finished reading it again.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat as you try to determine who is out to kill Sabrina and Del only to find the plot twist like a winding road.  I loved it and am looking forward to reading Book 3 in this series Vegas Lies.  Author Andrew Cunningham has become one of my favorite authors!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Murder on the Menu - Silver Sisters Mystery - Morgan St. James & Phyllice Bradner, Authors


Vegan Tahini Brownies

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed )
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dairy free chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan* with cooking spray. You can also use a larger pan, such as an 8x6 or even an 8x8 if you double the recipe.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flaxseed and water to create two flax eggs. Set aside to thicken.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the tahini, coconut sugar, maple syrup and thickened flax eggs until smooth.
Add in the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and stir until combine.
Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter evenly into your prepared loaf pan and bake the brownies for about 18-25 minutes.

(Feel free to use whatever pan you have on hand or double the recipe for larger baking pans. Just be sure to adjust the baking time depending on the size pan you chose and whether you like your brownies more gooey or chewy!)

Murder on the Menu - Review by Martha A. Cheves

She spent the previous few days preparing for her move and getting psyched-up for her new career.  In between filming her last Flirting With Food episodes, hours were spend researching vegan and vegetarian recipes that she could tweak and propose to Chef Jambon.  Little by little Godiva and the oldsters had come around as her departure time drew near.  Everyone, including Caesar, wished her the best of luck in her Oregon adventure.

Chili Pepper has been offered a chance to apply for the job of her dreams.  Seems a childhood friend from Juneau, Roscoe Bean, has moved to Portland and become friends Chef Jordan Jambon who has just made Bon Appetite's list of the Top 20 Chefs in the country,  and he wants to interview her for his soon to open restaurant Herbivore.  And that's isn't all.  Chef Jambon has rented a beautiful, old house that has the kitchen of every chef's dreams.  The house also has 4 extra bedrooms which he rents out and one of them could be hers.  Chili's knew that Roscoe was one of the renters but was surprised to find that another old friend from Juneau - Ozzie was also a renter.  So, when she passes the interview and is offered the job, all she has to do now is go back to California and break the news to her Aunt, Grandmother, Uncle and her boss Caesar.

Ah, the good life, so Chili thought.  That was until one of the roommates was murdered, which brought the Silver Sisters to the rescue.  And as it turns out, there wasn't just one murder but several.

I've read all of the Silver Sister Mysteries and have loved every one.  I know murder isn't supposed to be 'light hearted' but with the characters in this series, you can't help but feel a touch of humor in the writings of Morgan and Phyllice.  Their character names are priceless.  You've just met Chili Pepper but you'll also meet her mother and aunt - Goldie and Godiva, as well as her grandmother Flossie Silver and her uncle Sterling Silver.  And then there's Chili's TV boss Caesar Romano.  So, like I said, this is a light hearted mystery that will keep you lightly on the edge of your seat while you try to help the sisters solve the murders.  I myself found the ending to be a surprise.

 
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