Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Suddenly Psychic - Elizabeth Hunter, Author


White Chocolate Energy Blend

3 Pkg. (2.75 oz. each) Imperial Nuts - Energy Blend
1 pkg. white chocolate chips

Melt the white chocolate and stir in the Energy Blend.  Pour onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until cooled.  Break into pieces.

Suddenly Psychic - Review by Martha A. Cheves


Glimmer Lake was a year-round vacation town.  In the summer, the cool waters of the lake attracted swimmers, boaters, and anglers from valleys at the base of the Sierra Nevada.  They came to escape the baking summers in the lowlands and to enjoy the crisp air.  In the winter, heavy snow made the lake town a destination for skiers, sledders, and those looking for the rare white Christmas in California.  The town that occupied the banks of Glimmer Lake had replaced the old logging and mining town of Grimmer, which had been flooded in the 1940s to create a reservoir that could serve the thirsty population boom in Southern California.  

Robin Brannon and her two best friends Val and Monica are on their way to Big Creek Lodge where they could enjoy karaoke and half-priced drinks.  The road leading to the lodge was narrow, twisted and had almost zero lights.  As Val and Monica sang "Always Be My Baby" Robin took her eyes off the road and looked into the rear-view mirror.  When Monica yelled, she glanced back at the road to see a massive white deer frozen in the middle of the road.  She swerved in the darkness to avoid the deer.  But her stomach dropped when she realized there was nothing.  No deer.  No road.  Nothing but the darkness and the moon over the water.

This book is more than a mystery.  It's a book of life both new and old, both dead and alive.  It's the life of 3 middle aged women who escape death only to find themselves with special 'powers' that they never had before.  One can see ghosts, one is a touch telepath and the other is a seer.  As they combine their powers, they're able to solve a murder that is half a century old, as well as give life to Robin's grandmother.  They also find that through their newly acquired abilities they find themselves and the lives they are meant to have.

This book is an enjoyable mystery but it's also a book that makes you stop and look at your own life.  A book well worth reading.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Dylan: The Flying Bedlington (Family of Rescue Dogs Book 6) - Brian L. Porter, Author


HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER DOG TREATS
(A recipe from the ‘Porter Pack’ Rescue Dogs)

2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 ½ - 3 cups whole wheat flour

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky.
Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Let cool completely.

Dylan: The Flying Bedlington - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"I don't want Dylan's story to become a repetitive tale of loss and sadness.  I'll just say that each and every dog who has been a part of our family, some longer than others, has been a much loved, and now, sadly missed member of our rescue pack, and their presence in our home has helped to enrich our lives and our hearts, with their love, their faithfulness and their at times, hilarious antics.  Rescue dogs are definitely a special breed.  They seem to know when they've been given a second, often third chance of a happy life and they repay the faith and the love you give to them, a hundred times over."  Author Brian L. Porter

I agree 100+% to the statement above.  Rescue dogs are special.  Most of the dogs I've had throughout my life have been rescues.  I can only remember maybe 2 that weren't.  Every dog I've ever had was special but rescues just seem to have the knowledge that you are the one who saved their lives and you're the one they love the most.  My Jesse is a rescue.  He was due to be put down the very next day.  No way would I allow that.  He came home with me and we bonded from day one.  He shows me his love and faithfulness to me every day.  He doesn't want me out of his sight and when I do have to leave him, he lays by the door waiting for me to come home.  There aren't enough good words in the dictionary to express how special rescue dogs are.

I've read every one of this Author's series of Rescue Dogs and each one has made me laugh and at times cry.  I know how hard it is to watch your 'baby', and that is exactly what they are, start going downhill.  Jesse, like Dylan, has lost his hearing and most of his sight.  How old is he?  Don't know.  He was picked up on the streets before I found him, so there were no records of his age.  Best guess is that he's around 13-14 years old and I can only pray that he has many more years to go.

If you aren't a dog lover, read these books and I have a feeling you may become one.  If you are a dog lover, read these books and see what a difference rescuing a dog will make in not just their life but also in your life.  Either way, this is a group of books I highly recommend to everyone.  It's not only heartwarming but also educational.

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.

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.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Mersey Monastery Murders: The Habit of Murder - Brian L. Porter, Author


Wiener Schnitzel with Parsley Butter Potatoes

4 veal cutlets, ½-inch thick
1 T (15 ml) sunflower or canola oil
Salt & pepper
Light oil (such as sunflower oil)
¼ C (31 g) flour
2 lg eggs, beaten
1 C breadcrumbs
1-2 C (230-459 g) butter
1-2 C (220-440 g) lard
POTATOES:
1½ lbs (680 g) sm new potatoes
½ C (115 g) butter, melted
1 C (121 g) breadcrumbs
2 T (5 g) Italian parsley, finely chopped
Pepper to taste
GARNISH:
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place cutlets between pieces of wax paper and gently pound with a meat mallet (or small heavy saucepan) until about ¼-inch thick. Rub cutlets with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set up 3 shallow dishes: 1 with flour, 1 with egg and 1 with breadcrumbs. Coat each cutlet well first with flour, then egg, then crumbs.
In a heavy frying pan, melt equal amounts of sufficient butter and lard to cover frying pan bottom to a depth of ½ inch. Working 2 at a time, place cutlets in pan, immersing in fat. Shake pan gently as meat cooks to ensure cutlets do not stick. Cook 3-4 minutes over medium heat until cutlets begin to brown; turn over; cook another 1-2 minutes so both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle lightly with salt.
Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain; place them back on the stove for a minute or so, uncovered. Peel; slice into wedges and place in a serving dish. Pour melted butter over potatoes, sprinkle with parsley and pepper.
Serve cutlets with potatoes and garnish with lemon. This dish pairs well with a sweet white wine like muscatel.
Makes 4 servings.



The Mersey Monastery Murders: The Habit of Murder - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"Right now, Nick, we really don't know where to look for the killer, because we don't know for sure when he was killed.  We're pretty certain he was murdered by this Freedom Train organization, to allow them to insert the impostor in his place.  If we can put a rough time to his death, we can search for organization members active in the UK at that time.  If we find the person or persons involved in the murder, it will go toward shutting them down here.  They can't be a big group.  I don't think the Stasi were as big as the Nazis after World War Two, and Sam's contact at MI6 gave her the impression there are a limited number of former Stasi officers on the Germans' wanted list.  So, the number of those helping them to evade justice has to be relatively small."

When someone is killed at the Monastery it's up to Andy Ross and his team to find out who committed the murder and why.  Could it be one of the Brothers or one of the Nuns?  Not likely but not impossible.  As their investigation progresses Ross finds more hidden secrets than even he would have guessed.  Someone is not only murdering people but also replacing them with wanted war criminals.  So how do they stop them?

This makes the 7th book in the Mersey Murder Mysteries that I've read and I must say they just keep getting better and better.  I don't know where this author's imagination comes from but I'm glad he has it and hope it never quits.  Anyone that can write mysteries like this one as well as adopt and care for a dozen dogs, writing books about them too, is an Ace in my book.  Keep it up Brian Porter and I'll keep reading.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk - Rose Pressey, Author


Marshmallow Ghosts

4 cups mini marshmallows (1 bag)
14 oz white chocolate chips or candy melts
1-2 tbs shortening
1 tube black gel frosting

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and 1 tbs shortening on high for 30 seconds. Carefully remove from microwave and stir. Continue in microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between each burst, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add a little more shortening as needed to thin chocolate for easy use.
Let chocolate cool for a couple minutes, but not completely. Lay out sheets of waxed paper on counter top. Add marshmallows to cooling chocolate and mix well to evenly coat marshmallows.
Drop chocolate covered marshmallows onto wax paper and gently shape into ghosts. Let cool completely.
Use black gel frosting to add eyes and mouths to ghosts.



Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Devil's Moon was one of the most haunted places I'd ever known.  It had more than its share of ghosts.  There were plenty of scary stories to keep everyone intrigued and an abundance of ghosts to be spotted everywhere in town.  I'd quickly figured that out when they kept popping up all around me.  Sometimes the spirits even followed me during the tours.  Of course that freaked a lot of people out, and I was a little scared of them myself.  Especially since I didn't know what they wanted or why they were following me.  There was also a new development in my paranormal adventures - ghosts were now sending me text messages.  I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.

Oh yeah.  I'm Ripley Van Raden or Rip to my friends.  I moved back to my hometown to take the position of head librarian, but also used the opportunity to start my tour around town.  My tours always start in the cemetery where the ghosts are plentiful.

Not long after moving to Devil's Moon we had a murder in town.  That's when I met the hunk of a policeman, Brannon.  We hit it off from the beginning.  You see, he is into the paranormal too.  I also met the library ghost Annie who was the librarian many years before me.  She is the one who first started texting me.  But lately, I've started receiving text messages from someone else.  I've also being followed by someone that I've never seen before.  Could they be one and the same?

Oh yeah again.  I forgot to tell you that there was another murder in town and this one really has me scared for my own life.

Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk is Book 3 in the Haunted Tour Guide Mystery.  I've read all of the books in this series so far and can tell you that Rose Pressey has me wanting more.  She keeps you guessing as to who the murderer really is but keeps the story 'light' along the way.  I personally can't wait to read Book #4 - Walk this Way, Haunt this Way.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Remembering Dexter - Brian L. Porter


Beef and ale cobbler

465g diced casserole beef
2 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
1 large diced carrot
150g halved button mushrooms
560g Asda Chosen by You Beef and Ale Pour Over Sauce
225g self raising flour
50g chilled (cubed butter)
150ml milk
½ tbsp chopped thyme
½ tbsp chopped parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ Gas 4. Brown the beef in batches in 2 tbsp of oil.
Lift out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a casserole dish with the onion, carrots and mushrooms.
Pour in the Beef and Ale Pour Over Sauce and mix well. Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook in the oven for 2 hours
Prepare the cobbler 15 minutes before the 2 hours are up. Put 225g self raising flour into the bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1 tbsp each of the thyme and parsley. Make a well in the centre and add the milk (reserving 1-2 tbsp for glazing). Combine until it forms a soft dough.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 5ml thick. Cut out rounds 3-4 cm in diameter.
Carefully remove the dish after 2 hours and increase the heat to 200C/180C Fan/ Gas 6. Top the casserole with the rounds and brush with the reserved milk. Return to the oven for a further 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.



Remembering Dexter - Review by Martha A. Cheves


"It's a sad tale really.  Someone was driving along the motorway one day, quite recently, and suddenly saw a car up ahead open one of its doors, and a dog was literally thrown from the car onto the motorway.  As it was travelling at about 60 mph, the poor dog hit the tarmac with some force and rolled over and over until it came to a halt on the hard shoulder.  Luckily, there was no other traffic following the car, or he could have been hit and killed.  The person who witnessed it, quickly applied the breaks and pulled onto the hard shoulder.  They were too far behind to get the number of the car that threw him out, which quickly accelerated away, and was lost to sight in no time.  They checked the poor dog, as best as they could, then gently loaded him into their car and dove him to the next town, luckily only a few miles down the road.  They found a vet, told him what had happened, and left the dog in his care."  The dog in this story is Dexter.

After hearing this story told to Brian and his wife Juliet, by one of the Dog Pound employee, being both mad and hurting regarding the treatment this beautiful Labrador/Staffy Crossbreed received, they decided to take him for a walk with one of the pack members they had brought along to see how he would fit in.  It didn't take long for everyone to decide this beauty had just found himself a new, loving home.

As I read Dexter's story I also became mad at the way some people treat these loving beings.  A dog, in many ways, is more caring than people.  My dog Jesse is a rescue too and our first day together bonded us to the point that he doesn't want me out of his sight and I actually don't want him out of mine.  As I sit at my computer, he lays under my feet.  If I get up, so does he.  When I go to another room or up the stairs, he follows.  And at night he sleeps curled up against my back.  Yes he sleeps with me.  He wakes me every morning around 7:00 a.m. with kisses.  Now, what human has ever shown that much love?  I've never known one that is that caring.  Jesse is my best friend and my soulmate.   Like Dexter, my Jesse is getting up in age.  I know his time is near and like Brian and Juliet, it will be a time that will give me pain for a long time.

I can't help but admire this Brian and Juliet.  Their love for our four legged friends is so great.  I can only wish I was in a position to take care of the 10 to 12 that they have at all times.  They are both very special people.  So, if you're a dog lover you must read Remembering Dexter.  If you aren't a dog lover, read it anyway and you might just become one.  After all what does DOG spell backwards?!  Do you think God made Dogs and named them after himself and that is why they are so special?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice - Willow Monroe, Author


Starla's Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

1 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup of rolled oats
1 and 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
1 Tbsp. powdered orange drink (Tang)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners or spray with nonstick spray.  This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so you will have a couple of cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.  In a large bowl, toss the flour, oats and spices together until combined.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined.  Whisk in the pumpkin, oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla and honey until combined.  Do NOT over mix the batter.  Gently fold in walnut pieces.  Spoon the batter evenly into 14 cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.  Bake for 17-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting. 

Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Police Chief Roby Whitt entered the diner, somehow managing to walk through the door without rattling the jingle bells on the handle.  The men in the room stood or sat up a bit straighter while the women just collectively seemed to...well, there's o other word for it; swoon.  Gladys was seventy-five years old and still pretty attractive when she remembers to put her teeth in.  A few weeks earlier Gladys accidently caught her apron on fire while trying to ogle Chief Whitt and make an omelet at the same time.  This had earned the diner a visit from the entire Sugar Hill Volunteer Fire Department, who were actually having a slow week and also hoping for free coffee and cupcakes. 

Welcome to the Dixie Cupp Dinner owned by myself Starla Cupp and my partner Poppy Wendell.  We are not only noted for our very tasty food but also for my cupcakes.  My blue velvet cupcakes are light, sweet and melt in your mouth.  They have won me the blue ribbon in the cupcake competition at the annual Sugar Hill Dessert Festival five years in a row.  But this year may be a different story.  It appears that our new police chief Roby Whitt will be judging the cupcakes and believe it or not but he is a health nut.  My cupcakes are far from being healthy!  So, maybe I should just back out this year.  Or should I.

When I first started reading Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice I knew it was going to be good.  It's light hearted, contains humor and even a murder to bring it all together.  It's Book 1 in the Dixie Cupp Diner Mysteries and you can bet I'll be reading Book 2.  If you want a book that is actually fun to read, check this one out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Hawk's Nest -

Campfire Spam Hash

Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 pounds)
1 spam cut into chunks
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

Directions
In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onion in oil under tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add spam cook and stir until meat and potatoes are tender and browned, 10-15 minutes. Stir in chiles and corn; heat through.



The Hawk's Nest - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The first thing you saw when you walked into the Hawk's Nest was our outdoor living room.  There was a table and a couch near the fire pit, and more chairs scattered for people to sit and visit.  Our tents were set up in a row on either side of our shared space.  The freeway above was our shelter from the weather.

When I started to write this review it came to me that I knew nothing, nor have bothered to learn anything about the homeless.  I see them on the streets asking for money, selling their bodies and now and then asking for food.  I've never bothered to even think about where they came from, who they are, what they may have done in another life, nor even why they are homeless.  I just saw them as people who lived on the streets.

After reading Hawk's Nest I stopped and realized these are 'real' people.  They have their hard times just like we do but in their case worse.  Yes, they may steal to stay alive and do drugs to forget.  But they are human and this book helped me realize that.  I'll admit that the language is rough but the story is even rougher and a true eye opener.  So my question is, could we put ourselves in their position and live their lives?  I hope I never have to find out.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Glastonbury - Brian L. Porter, Author


Somerset chicken

6 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
75g/2½oz butter, plus extra to serve
3 tbsp olive oil 
2 onions, peeled, sliced
4 tbsp plain flour 
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled, cores removed, sliced into batons
110g/4oz button mushrooms,  sliced
250ml/9fl oz chicken stock 
300ml/10½fl oz cider 
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage 
250ml/9fl oz double cream 
300g/10½oz cheddar cheese, grated
6 baked potatoes, to serve
butter, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large frying pan until smoking, then add half of the butter and oil. Fry the chicken breasts in batches, skin-side down first, for 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until golden-brown all over.
Transfer the chicken breast to a deep-sided roasting tray and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (NB: the chicken is cooked through when the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced with a skewer.) Keep warm.
Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining butter and oil. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Stir in the flour and the mustard and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Add the apples and mushrooms and cook for a further minute, then pour over the chicken stock.
Bring to the boil, then add the cider and return to the boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then lower the heat, add the sage and stir in the cream. Simmer for a further 5-6 minutes, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour the sauce over the chicken so that it is completely covered.
Preheat the grill to high.
Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the chicken and place under the grill for 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, golden-brown and bubbling.
To serve, place a baked potato topped with a knob of butter on each serving plate. Spoon the chicken alongside and serve.



Glastonbury - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The same sun that brought light to the day in Stratford-on-Avon broke through the curtains that had held back the night in Joe's room, some eighty-three miles, or 134 kilometres distance from Capshaw's mansion.  The room felt warmer than it had for the last few days, and Joe himself felt a cheerfulness that came from a good night's sleep.  The previous evening's conversation and the brandy had helped, but somehow Joe knew the presence of Lucius Doberman had made a difference to his overall mood.  He wasn't sure exactly how the learned professor was going to make a difference to their quest in solving the riddle posed by Capshaw and Graves; he just instinctively knew that he would.

Joe Cutler is the owner of Strata Survey Company.  He and his employees Winston Fortune and Sally Corbett have been hired by millionaire Malcolm Capshaw to find non other than the sword which was fabled to be owned by King Author.  In other words, the Excalibur.  Capshaw has provided them with a map that is 'supposed' to show the general area of where the sword was buried.  He has also supplied them with a noted historian professor who goes by the name of Walter Graves.

So, does King Author and his sword Excalibur really exist or is this just a wild goose chase?  Or - is it truly just a myth?

Except for a clue and hint here and there, this author kept me in the dark until the end.  It has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.  And if I read the end of the book correctly, there will be a second book coming out with some of the main characters and of course a story full of suspense.

Glastonbury Order Link 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Scammed (Revenge is Fun #5) -


Easy Mexican Casserole

One 16 ounce can of refried beans
Three-quarters of a medium onion, diced
Five 10 inch flour tortillas
One cup of salsa - mild, medium or hot to taste
Two cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
You can also add corn kernels and if you want this to be a meat dish, sautéed ground beef to cover the second bean layer.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a saucepan, cook refried beans and onions (to soften them) on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.
Place one tortilla in the bottom of the greased pan. Spread about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture over it. Layer a few tablespoons of salsa over this. Then, place another tortilla over the salsa, and add more of the bean mixture. Follow the beans with a big handful of cheese, spreading evenly. repeat layers, spreading the ingredients evenly over the tortillas. On the top layer, make sure to use lots of salsa and cheese!
Bake until the cheese is melted, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Garnish with chopped scallions and slices of avocado

Scammed (Revenge is Fun #5) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Struggling to keep her voice level she said, Don't worry.  I'm fine.  Just a little exhausted.  You know we had the HOA Board meeting last night.  Well, Al Shady didn't show up and his wife was concerned so she left early to check on him.  When the meeting was over, we still hadn't heard anything from either of them.  The Colonel brought one of our neighbors to the meeting and we all walked home together.  He's a former FBI guy turned author.  We passed the Shady house and decided to check on them to make sure everything was okay.  It wasn't.  The front door was ajar and the place looked like it was ransacked.  Both of the Shadys are missing and the cops are on it.  

Cameron's boyfriend Milton has concerns for her safety.  It seems that crime seems to follow her and her friends Kate and Kim, constantly putting them in harm's way.  So, when the HOA vice president Al and his wife Barbara turn up missing, there is no doubt that the trio will find themselves trying to solve yet another mystery.  But, this one hits home not only with Cameron but also with a few other members from the HOA.  It turns out that Barbara was the treasurer and due to a settlement the HOA had recently received, they are afraid the money has something to do with the missing couple.

As always, Scammed kept me turning the pages.  With each book in this series that I've read, I can't help but wish someone would pick them up for a TV series.  They are an update and upgrade for the Murder She Wrote series.  I love them and can't wait for more.

 
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