Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Five Manners of Death - Darden North, Author

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Makes: 8 servings (2 quarts)

2 lbs ground beef
6 cups water
1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped green peppers
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch or two of garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups cooked long grain rice
(Optional): chopped fresh parsley 
(Optional): 8 oz. finely shredded chedder cheese (Apply after cooking)

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir beef until no longer pink; drain. Stir in water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chopped green peppers, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, beef bouillon granules, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until peppers are tender– about 30 minutes. Add cooked rice; simmer uncovered 10 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and shredded cheddar cheese.

Nutrition Facts per cup without cheese: 337 calories, 14 g fat ( 5 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 1466 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates (13 g sugars, 4 g fiber0, 24 g protein

The Five Manners of Death - Review by Martha A. Cheves

What are the five manners of death?  They are:

It appears that someone in Jackson, Mississippi, is following suit with each of the manners of death.  As each person dies, Dr. Diana Bratton finds herself, as well as her aunt Phoebe, more and more involved.  The tangle of lies begins to unravel after a body buried 50 years earlier is discovered on the Ole Miss college campus during a construction project.  According to Aunt Phoebe, she never knew the deceased.  Diana learns of the deception after seeing a 1966 yearbook from Ole Miss in her aunt's belongings.  Aunt Phoebe not only knew dead Rusty Reynolds well but she also knew several of the newly deceased.  So, what could possibly be the connection between 50-year-old skeletal remains and more recent deaths among the same a circle of friends from that era in college? 

I've read everything written and published by Author Darden North and have to say that with each novel he gets better and better.  "The 5 Manners of Death" has to be his best yet and I hope will become a long time series.  Every time I thought I had come up with a connection between the Ole Miss students from 50 years earlier and the contemporary deaths, I found myself to be wrong.  I incorrectly pegged the whole motive and killer all the way to the very last pages.  The cover drew me to this book. I immediatley wanted to pick up, start reading, and NOT put it down until finished. 

Keep them coming Dr. North!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Mersey Mariner - Mersey Mystery Series Book 4 - Brian L. Porter, Author

Portuguese Chicken with Ratatouille
(An Alexandra Rose Specialty)

1 tbs honey
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp tomato purée
4 tsp Piri Piri Seasoning 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, scored
For the Ratatouille:
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 courgette, diced
1 small aubergine, diced
1 red pepper, diced
200 g (7 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Garlic Grinder 
1 tsp Basil 
1 tbs tomato purée
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6.
Mix together the honey, lemon juice, tomato purée and Perfect Shake Piri Piri Special Blend in a shallow dish, add the chicken and coat well. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
For the Ratatouille, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the vegetables for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with the chicken and crusty bread.

A Mersey Mariner - Book 4 - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"Mister Gray, what on earth's wrong with you man?"  Gideon shouted at the young man.  "Sorry sir, but he's dead, sir, dead as a doorknob."  "Who's dead, man?  Come on, pull yourself together and talk sense," Gideon said to the young man, who was visibly trembling.  "The man in cabin six, sir.  The Spaniard, Mister Gaspar.  He's just lying there on his bunk sir, staring up at the ceiling with a terrible look on his face.  He's dead, sir, I'd stake my life on it," Gray said, his voice croaking with emotion as he relayed the information to his captain.

The Alexandra Rose had sailed into the Mersey Estuary which was shrouded in dense, dank fog.  Due to weather reports it would be anchored there until the fog rose, which would be a couple of days.  The passengers are a bit unhappy for the delay in landing and now they have to contend with a death.  A death that will surely turn out to be something other than natural.

Author Brian L. Porter has taken me on a ride that goes from the Alexandra Rose with its crew and passengers to the Amazon where the search for a natural cure for cancer is taking place.  As I read, I'm sure there has to be a connection, but what?  As the deaths start mounting up, so does my puzzlement as to the connection.  It appears to be two whole stories within one book.  Then... he brings it together, taking me by surprise and making me wonder why I didn't see it earlier.

As always, Porter has written yet another book that will have you turning the pages as he keeps you in suspense of the actual plot and who the bad guys actually are.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Ka - Mary


2 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup   Mashed bananas
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Shortening
2 tsp    Baking powder
1/4 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Walnuts

Beat sugar, shortening and eggs together until light. Add mashed bananas. Sift flour with baking power, salt and baking soda. Stir into creamed mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Cool before serving.

The Ka - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

Chione was in awe making her way around the immense dimly lit chamber.  Magnificent history spoke from the etchings.  Her heart quickened.  She wanted to read and learn who had been laid to rest in the burial chamber of this opulent tomb, yet the unfinished tasks at the first tomb took priority.  Tauret's tomb would not allow her to focus her attention elsewhere until the mission of that discovery could be satisfied.

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be an Archaeologist, but I had one really big problem.  I'm very claustrophobic.  So I now rely on old things above ground and reading about those below ground.  In The Ka, Chione took me not only to the Valley of the Queens, she also took me on a journey where history, in a sense, sometimes repeats itself. With all its history and vivid detail, the author must have spent vast amounts of time doing research.

Chione, along with a group of archaeologists embark on a finding that will take them deep into the earth and all of this has come about due to the dreams and visions Chione has seen.  But it seems that this group of archaeologists are not as normal as they believe they are.  They have been brought together to do something more than uncover history.  They, too, are just as special as Chione and as time goes on, they will see for themselves just why they were all brought together. 

So, I now have one question for you.  Do you believe in reincarnation?  If not, you might after reading The Ka.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Keep Her Safe - Richard J. Parker, Author

Richard Parker’s Golden Rum Chicken Wings

I’m pretty obsessed with chicken wings. They’re the ideal accompaniment to a home movie night. I’ve experimented with every way of cooking them - marinating in advance, flour coating, baking etc but this, for me, delivers the best results. - Richard

You’ll need:

10 chicken wings per fry
Corn oil
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Dried oregano
4 cups smoky barbecue sauce
Couple of slugs of golden rum
Carton of sour cream

Don’t season wings beforehand. Deep fry them for 8 minutes. Drain and break one to check meat is white. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and dried oregano.

Add rum to smoky barbecue sauce and stir in. Adjust to taste. The more the merrier!

Drop the wings into a deep plastic bowl, pour over rum sauce and toss.

Serve with sour cream for dipping on the side and open a chilled beer.

Keep Her Safe - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Order now - This book releases 1/11/2018!

The figure was halfway through, their bulk bent over the ledge and partially concealed by the curtains their body was bulging out.  Maggie lunged for Penny.  She scooped her out of her crib and clasped her tight as the figure's weight landed on the carpet and shuddered the floorboards.  As they stood, the hood of their dark blue poncho glistened from the rain.  Maggie yelled.  An incoherent warring that came from deep inside her.  She hoped it would briefly startle them.  The figure froze, and Maggie saw blue surgical gloves clutching a carving knife.  Her shoulder butted hard into the door frame as she reversed from the nursery.  Fingers seized her bob of dark hair.  Maggie twisted her head, clutched Penney to her chest and crouched as she made for her open bedroom door.

He, or is it a she, is called the 'Babysitter.'  The Babysitter has found a way to commit murder without getting 'blood on their own hands.'  How - simple - you kidnap a child and have the mother of that child do the killing for you making her the murderer, not you.  And when she has done the dirty work for you, you simply have her killed by another mother.

Boy did this book take me through the wringer!  It would make a perfect movie, especially if it were released around Halloween.  The 'Babysitter' will scare the heck out of you while making you believe this is something that could really take place.  And as for the ending - I was totally surprised and shocked to find the motive behind all of the murders.

If you like a good mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, don't miss Keep Her Safe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Til Death (Rockwell Return Files) - Jason Anspach, Author

Alice Rockwell's Perfect Pot Roast

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled into two pieces 
kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
1 large carrot, chopped medium
1 celery rib, chopped medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 cup beef broth, plus 1 to 2 cups for sauce
½ cup dry red wine, plus 1/4 cup for sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Sprinkle pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt and and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, ½ cup wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; bring to simmer.

3. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season generously with pepper. Tie each piece of meat into loaf shape for even cooking.

4. Place meat on top of vegetables. Cover pot tightly with large piece of foil and cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook  on middle rack until beef fully tender, 3½ to 4 hours, turning halfway through cooking.

5. Transfer roasts to cutting board and keep warm. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer vegetables to a jar. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add vegetables and beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Blend until smooth. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat.

6. While sauce heats, remove twine from roast and slice against grain into ½-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to large serving platter. Stir chopped thyme, remaining ¼ cup wine, and vinegar into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of sauce over meat; pass remaining sauce separately.

'Til Death (Rockwell Return Files) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

S. Rockwell, Private Investigator
Returns and the Unexplainable Welcomed

When you think of 'returns' you normally think of someone sitting behind a counter helping people get their money back for items they either don't need or simply don't want.  At least that was how I've always looked at it.  That is until I read 'Til Death.  This is what I learned from reading this book:

'Returns' was the acccepted term used for dead folks who came back, usually due to sufficiently important unfinished business.  Who made the determination on who Returned or not was still a hot topic among theologians.

Sam Rockwell's PI business was to help these 'Returns' out so they could finish up their business and move on to better places upstairs.  He didn't deal with a large number of returns, but the few times a Return actually made his way into the office, they weren't exactly asking him to save the world.  Most cases were as simple as an executive returning to share the code for his wall safe with his business partner.  And that was the case until his mother calls to tell him his father had been murdered and his help was needed to find the killer.  Oh yeah, his father was a Return.  He told the people upstairs that he had information that was given to him to safe keep away from the Russians who would use it to destroy the US.

This book is so different from any I've ever read.  It has murder, suspense, and best of all humor.  Sam's task of finding out who killed his father and then who killed the killer, puts him up against some really rough people.  But you can't help but laugh as he deals with the Returns that pop up now and then, mainly his own father.  When I got to the end of 'Til Death I saw that book 2 was out.  It's titled 'Til Death: Second Impressions.  Yes I ordered it and can't wait to see where the Returns take Sam next.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Short Stories From The Spiral Galaxy - Lawrence Johnson, Sr,

 Inline image 2

Mini Cheesecakes

8 Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust
2 package Philadelphia cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 can topping

Place cream cheese into a medium size mixing bowl
Slowly incorporate sugar into cream cheese
Blend eggs with cream cheese mixture one at a time
Add vanilla extra 

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Pour mixture into pie crust shells
Place on cookie sheet
Bake for 30 minutes or until center is no longer wet

Remove from oven and let cool before adding your favorite topping. 

Short Stories From The Spiral Galaxy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat, Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Terror On Telderan 

Rayna took a deep breath and lifted her head slowly.  "earlier I told you that as High Ruler I only have access to an astral-numerologist however, the Grand Apex has been told by the Oracle that Rotart's attempt to terra form Telderan will have catastrophic results.  The planet will spiral out of control then ultimately out of this galaxy and...onward...toward the Milky Way Galaxy.  It will eventually rip through space and smash directly into your beloved planet Earth."

Murder on the Eros Star 

The Eros Star is an entertainment and pleasure ship that travels throughout the galaxy.  Jada was working a case on the Eros Star.  When she got close to solving it someone pumped poisonous gas into her quarters.  She was alive but sedated.  The doctor feels that she will be ok but he is not 100% certain and the assailant is still on the loose.

Intergalactic detective Da'Quan was on his way to the yearly Festival of Life on the Planet of Lazon when he received word that his assistant Jada had undergone an attempt on her life.  With his plans now changed, Da'Quan   speeds to the Eros Star to not only find the perpetrator before he tried again and succeeded. 

Planet of Doom 
Da'Quan is an Intergalactic Detective. His ship (the Spirit) crashes on the planet Akanon aka The Planet of Doom. Actually, his ship was forced down by a race of deranged androids who are about to go out into the galaxy and take over. Da'Quan meets up the town's people on an island (the androids are afraid of water). The locals help Da'Quan repair his ship but he needs to go to the big city where the crazy androids are to get spare parts. There is another problem. Da'Quan sent out a distress signal right before the crash so his assistant Jada is on her way and he has no way to communicate with her, no way to warn her about the beam the androids used to drag his and hundreds of other ships to crash on the surface. Da"Quan eventually finds a way to use their weapon against them. 

These stories take you right up to the events that take place as earth goes into destruction and the plight its people take to survive on other planets.  You’ll be introduced to new aliens and discover they too have crime, law and order and a force to enforce these laws.  They kept me spell bound and holding my breath all the way through as I’m sure they will you too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Snow Storm - Bobby Nash, Author

Bobby's Chicken Strip Recipe
(My recipe for chicken strips, perfect for a day at the track or a picnic while reading your favorite novel. - Bobby)

I package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins (or breasts you can slice into strips).
1 stick butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 cup fine bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven 0 o 350 degrees.
Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
Spray with cooking spray of your choice (for non-stick)
Melt better in bowl (I use the microwave)
Mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in separate bowl
Place chicken in butter to coat
Place buttered chicken in Parmesan cheese/bread crumb mix.
Coat fully.
Place on tray.
Repeat until all chicken is coated.
Add light salt and pepper.

Bake for 16 minutes on 350 degrees.
Turn over at 16 minutes.
Add light salt and pepper (to taste)
Bake for an additional 16 minutes on 350 degrees.

Remove and let cool. 

Snow Storm - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

I got a call from a lawyer friend of mine.  I helped him track down some folks a few times and whenever he could, he tossed some business my way.  This one didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary.  This lady split with her husband and then she up and moves away, taking their now teenage daughter with her.  The dad, Anthony Mann needed someone to help find the kid so he could get in touch... I found the ex.  She changed her name, which was weird and set of a few alarm bells.  The daughter changed her last name as well.  At first I assumed the mother had remarried and the daughter had taken the new guy's name, but she never remarried.  Mom works for a manufacturing outfit based out of Texas and travels a lot for the job.  She owns a small home in Florida, but also keeps an apartment in Atlanta.  My guess is that's where the daughter's living these days.  I found out she was accepted to Georgia Tech.  I've not been there yet.  Something about this whole thing didn't sit right with me so I did a little digging into both the lady and her ex-husband before I did anything else.

Samson Brooks wasn't just someone Snow had worked with while undercover, he was also a close friend.  So, when he filled him in on his search for Katie Masters and informed him that her real name was Katie Manelli, Snow's ears perked up.  Turns out that she is the granddaughter of Antonio Manelli, one of the biggest mob leaders in the country.

As Brooks and Snow go to Atlanta to pick Katie up and take her to a safe place, they meet trouble of the mob kind. The problem is this mob isn't part of the Manelli family, but of their biggest rival the Roarke family.

In Snow Storm, you'll find bullets flying and plenty of action as Snow, Brooks, Snow's brother and grandfather all try to keep the two families from killing each other as well as Katie and her mother Pamela.  It has a few twists and turns that kept me reading not sure this could be accomplished.  I must say, this isn't a very lengthy book but it is one that I really enjoyed.  It also left me with enough information about Book 3 that I'm looking forward to diving into it soon.  I'll give you a hint - Daniella Cordoza will apparently be brought back into the story.  If you don't know who she is, read Book 1 - Snow Falls and you'll see why I'm excited about her appearance.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sabotage at RKO Studio (A James Murray Mystery) - Christopher Geoffrey McPherson, Author

In the five James Murray Mysteries, the lead character makes it clear loudly and often that his favorite pie is cherry. So I thought it would be fun to share a recipe from the same period as the novels: from the 1930s, here is a vintage cherry pie recipe from Julia Lee Wright's "Recipes You'll Enjoy" cookbook.

Cherry Pie
(A James Murray Favorite)

3 cups tart pitted cherries
2 cups sugar
3 tbls flour
pie crust

Combine cherries with enough sugar to sweeten, flour to thicken. Line pan with pastry. Pour in fruit mixture and dot with butter. Cover with pastry that has been rolled out thinner than lower crust; cut design in top to allow steam to escape. Tuck edge of top crust under edge of lower crust and pinch together with fingers or with tines of a fork. Bake in hot oven (450 degs F) for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to moderate oven (350 degs F) and continue baking until fruit has cooked.

Sabotage at RKO Studio (the second James Murray Mystery) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

... his time was running out.  There were just a few days left until the Thursday night premiere of King Kong and still no sight of the missing spider scene.  Luckily for him, the studio was otherwise humming along, the seemingly innocent "accidents' pretty much over.  No more fires, no more shredded costumes, no more missing miniature dinosaurs.  But then, the damage had already been done, hadn't it?  All productions were back on schedule.  Now, if James could only figure out what happened to the missing scene, he'd be set.

James Murray has gone to work at RKO Studio to write the screenplay for his mystery "Murder at Eastern Columbia." The rights for the movie had been bought by the studio and it was up to him to get it in shape to start the movie.  This was all fine except for a few minor problems.  One - his mind just wasn't into writing a screenplay.  Two - someone was sabotaging activities at the studio and his boss 'Cooper' has instructed him to investigate.  And three - his mind is on writing his next book.  As it turns out the two and three are becoming combined as he writes his next book about the events that are taking place at the studio.

As I read Sabotage at RKO Studio I was lost as to the reason for the events taking place at the studio.  It appears that it sits on top of an oil field so that could be the reason.  Then James meets a woman on the  streetcar who seems to get upset when he talks about the 'accidents' and leads me to believe she may have something to hide but I could see no connections.  So yes, I was baffled by the outcome of this one.

This book turned out to be a different, yet fun read.  You read the story as the events take place but you also read it in the novel form as James writes his next book.  Interesting, especially the end.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Death Overdue - Allison Brook, Author - Pre-Order Now!

Eggplant Salad

My mother used to make this when I was growing up. Since then I’ve added touches of my own ~~Marilyn Levinson

1 eggplant
2 T olive oil
2 t vinegar
¼ onion
½ red pepper
clove of garlic
2-3 T of sundried tomatoes or a small tomato cut up
fresh or dried basil
fresh or dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste

This is a mid-eastern dish. While many like to roast the eggplant over a flame, I prefer to bake it in the oven at 350 degrees after washing it and stabbing it a few times with a knife. Turn the eggplant over after 12-15 minutes  and continue to bake to complete the process. When the eggplant is soft to the touch, remove it and let it cool before preparing the salad. I usually put it in the refrigerator after it’s cooled and complete the process the following day.

Dice red pepper, sundried tomatoes, garlic and onion in a food processor with the oil and vinegar. Slice the eggplant down the middle, scoop out the flesh and add to food processor. Discard seeds and skin. Add basil and/or parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Don’t over-process. Some people like a smooth salad while others prefer a chunkier texture.

Serve as a vegetable or an appetizer with crackers. You can add whatever herb you like. Enjoy!

Death Overdue - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Carrie Singleton is back in Clover Ridge, Connecticut, spiked purple hair and all.  She’s staying with Great Uncle Bosco and Aunt Harriet, who offered her a home when her own mother wouldn't. As for her father—for all Carrie knows, he might be back in jail. But it’s time to move on. The job Uncle Bosco has wrangled for her in the Clover Ridge Library is boring and makes no use of her library science degree. Besides, much as she’s grown to love her aunt and uncle, she simply can’t stay in one place very long. She’ll soon turn thirty, and she’s held five jobs in as many states. it’s time to go.

The library director’s offer to be Head of Programs and Events comes as a shock. It would mean drastic changes in Carrie’s lifestyle. No more purple hair. No more black Goth outfits. No more running carefree.  She would have responsibilities. Others would be depending on her. She would have to grow up and fast.
The ghost of Evelyn Havers appears and urges Carrie to take the job. Evelyn worked in the library until her death a few years ago. At Carrie's first scheduled event, a retired homicide detective is murdered while talking about a cold case he claims to have solved. Carrie believes the two murders are linked. With Evelyn’s help she sets out to find the murderer.

Allison Brook is one author that I can't get enough of.  I've read everything she has written, I think, and have enjoyed them all.  When I started Death Overdue, I decided I knew who the murderer was after about 60 pages.  Yep, I was wrong.  I wasn't surprised when the truth finally came out, but by then I had about 6 suspects.  Finishing this book has left room for many more books to come. I can't wait to read them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Series Book 2) - Angie Fox, Author

Mississippi Mud Brownies

1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
½ cup chopped pecans
1 (10.5 ounce) package mini marshmallows

½ cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup of butter. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa until smooth. Mix in the white sugar, eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in the flour, then fold in pecans and marshmallows. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the brownies cool in the pan. Try not to eat them (yet).

To make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, melt together 1/2 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of cocoa. Mix in confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the milk, a tablespoon at a time until icing is a nice spreading consistency.

Spread icing on top of brownies. Devour.

The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Series Book 2)- Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

Ellis leaned an arm over the back of the couch.  "I need your help, Verity."  Oh my.  "This isn't a habit I want to encourage," I said even if I could talk Frankie into helping me.  It took a lot of his strength to show me the other side.  "I'm not a professional ghost hunter."  "You're good at it," he pressed.  "I almost got us killed last time."  He'd hired me to clear out some ghosts in a property he was renovating.  It hadn't exactly gone smoothly.  "I've never talked to such a new ghost."  I didn't even know if she could be found.  "And aren't you the one who agreed I shouldn't be doing this?"  He shook his head.  "You're right," he conceded.  "At some point, this has to stop.  But not tonight.  We need to know what happened in that library.  You don't have to talk to her.  I'll take any witness you can find.  The building has got to be haunted,:" he said.  "I've heard stories since I was a kid."

There has been a death at Sugarland and Ellis Wydell, who just happens to be a policeman, the older brother of Verity's ex-fiance and her new love, needs her help again in solving the murder.  Verity, along with the help of Frankie, has helped Ellis in the past and is apparently in need of her abilities to see ghosts and her ghostly contacts again.  Oh yeah, Frankie "The German" is the spirit of a 1920s gangster that was tied to Verity's land after she emptied his funeral urn out onto her rose bushes and soaked them down with water.

Sugarland is noted for it's Civil War battle where a cannon ball was fired into the wall of the library but never exploded.  Each year the 'Jacksons and the Wydells put on displays and reenactments of the battle.  This year Ellis' mother decided to have the events filmed by an historical productions company so the world would know the city's true history.  But what is the truth?  Who were the victors - the Jacksons or the Wydells?  Getting to the truth will put Verity and Ellis' lives in danger and make Verity's almost-mother-in-law hate her even more, if that's possible.

I recommend that you read Southern Spirits - Book 1 of this series first.  I did and am glad I did.  Not only was it a unique book and story but it also gave me insight as to what happens in book 2.

I read a lot of books and once in a while I run across an author like Angie Fox who writes a story that you not only read but you also hear and see everything that happens.  I felt like I was 'reading a movie.'  I could actually see the events at they took place.  I could see the characters and feel their feelings.  This is the work of a very well written story that has murder, mystery, suspense, ghosts, and yes, a bit of humor.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dead Man's Image - Edna Curry, Author

Hershey Brownies

1 stick (1/2 c.) margarine     
1 cup sugar
4 eggs 
1 16 can Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 cup flour    
1/2 cup choped nuts, if desired
Cream together shortening and sugar, add eggs and chocolte, mix well.
Stir in flour. Pour onto greased 10x 16 inch brownie pan. Bake at 350* for
25-30 minutes.

Frost with a can of chocolate frosting and cut into bars.

Dead Man's Image - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

It was just after dark when they turned off the interstate onto a winding, two-lane blacktop.  He grinned.  He knew this road, it had plenty of hills, curves and lakes.  In fact, there was one spot in particular that was dangerous.  That spot was a sharp curve overlooking a steep valley of the St. Croix River.  It would be perfect.  No one would suspect that it wasn't an accident.  As they neared the dangerous curve, he stayed fairly close to the red Chevy.  He wasn't taking any chances on losing them.  He stepped on the gas to get closer, then as they rounded the curve, he suddenly raced alongside and forced the little Chevy off the road.

Lacey Summers is a licensed private investigator but when the phone rang and it was a man asking her to take a case regarding his death, she was curious but also a bit lost.  He explained to her that he was a long-haul truck driver who had just returned home to find his picture in the paper.  He had been murdered.  She tried to tell him that all he had to do was go to the police department, show his ID and they would see that they have the wrong name for the body.  Then he explained to her that the woman who saw a man dumping 'his' body gave a description to the police and the dumper and dumpee both looked alike!  What the trucker couldn't believe after sneaking into the funeral home with Lacey was that the dead man looked identical to him.  Who was he and why was he killed?

I must be losing my touch or authors are simply adding more twists to the story.  About 1/3 through the book I had it all figured out.  I knew who did it and why.  I took my theory all the way to the last couple of chapters.  Boy was I surprised to find out that I was completely wrong.  This book took me on some winding curves that led me to a big surprise as to who and why.

Turns out this is book 2 in the series and you can bet I'm going to go back and read book 1 Yesterday's Shadow and then head for book 3 Dead in Bed.  This author is good!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Diamonds Aren't Forever - Connie Shelton

This book will be released 8/14/2017.  You can pre-order at all major online retailers for just $.99 but on 8/21/2017 the price will go up to $4.99 so get your order in now!

Coca Cola Cake
(A Pen special)

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1-1/2 c. small marshmallows
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. oil
3 T. cocoa
1 c. Coke
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass pan). Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sift together the flour and sugar in a large bowl, add marshmallows. Stir together and set aside. In a saucepan, mix together the butter, oil, Coke, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, then add to the dry mix and blend well. Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk and quickly add it to batter. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Bake 45-50 minutes. Test for done-ness with a toothpick.

While the cake bakes, make the frosting:
1/2 c. butter
3 T. cocoa
6 T. Coke
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans

In saucepan, combine butter, cocoa and Coke. Bring to a boil, then pour over powdered sugar in a bowl and blend well. Add vanilla and pecans.

Remove cake from oven when done and pour frosting over it immediately. Let the frosting soak into the cake. Cool completely before cutting.

Diamonds Aren't Forever - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

The whole story spilled out.  The necklace going on loan to the Philpont Museum for a show on the royal jewels of Europe, the robbery six months ago where three armed men took the night guards by surprise and were able to bypass the museum's supposedly state-of-the-art security system.  The police working the case for the few months but leads petered out quickly.  Penelope's desperate hope that the private investigator might have better luck, not being constrained by the complexities of a bureaucracy.  Dick Stone's call yesterday that he had located her piece and would deliver it today.

Penelope Fitzpatrick put all of her faith in Dick Stone.  He has found the necklace that her grandfather had made many years before for the last tsar of Russia.  He has now returned it to Pen who decided the best place for this million dollar necklace was in her safety deposit box at the bank.  That was the day that she thought this nightmare would end only to find that it had just begun.

Author Connie Shelton held my attention as 72 year old Pen is joined by 3 other ladies that became the 'Heist Ladies.'  Their travels to find the man known as Dick Stone, which is only one of his many names, takes them to the Cayman Islands where 'Mr. Stone' posing under another alias is working his next mark.  They follow him to Zurich where he is to meet with a shady jeweler.  And on to Nice where one of the largest jewelry exhibits was to be held.  It was also the location where plans for one of the largest jewelry heists were being made.

As I read Diamonds Aren't Forever I pictured this little 72 year old lady and her 3 companions in my mind.  I admired her spiff and determination.  This was a book that was entertaining, humorous at times, and very enjoyable.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sign Off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1) - Patricia McLinn, Author

Elizabeth's Watergate Salad With Attitude

Watergate salad is served as a side dish and sometimes a dessert, depending on the sweetness of the toppings. But KWMT broadcaster Elizabeth Danniher, who first encountered the salad while working in Washington, D.C., modifies the recipe to make it more of a salad, going with gelatin instead of pudding and adding the horseradish for a surprising kick. It's also easy to make, always a plus for a busy journalist. 
This recipe fills a 9x13 baking dish, so it's great for newsroom potlucks or big family gatherings. Prep time: about 15 minutes.

1 3-ounce package instant lime gelatin mix
1 3-ounce package instant lemon gelatin mix
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 20- to 24-ounce tub of small-curd cottage cheese
1 5-ounce can of evaporated milk
3/4 to 1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish; not horseradish sauce (more if you want it a little sassier)

Make both gelatin packages using 1 cup of hot water to dissolve the gelatin and 1 cup of cold water to cool it (you can use the juice from the pineapple to substitute for some of the cold water). 
In a large bowl, mix together the lemon-lime gelatin mixture and the remaining ingredients.
Chill for at least three hours, or even better, overnight.

Sign Off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"Tamantha, I'm going to tell you the absolute truth.  But I have to ask you not to tell anybody.  You understand?"  She nodded.  "When you talked to me the other day at the television station, it got me looking into this case that your father's involved in.  I - we - Mr. Paycik and I - are talking to people and trying to find out things about what happened to Foster Redus."

"Oh, him. That's who some people said my Daddy killed.  They're wrong."

"Your mother agrees with the people saying that."

"Nobody listens to her.  Daddy didn't kill him.  You prove that.  That's what you promised on TV."

I shook my head.  "No.  That's not what I promise.  I promise to look into problems.  Some problems can't be fixed, and some get fixed but in a way you don't like.  That might happen, Tamantha.  Because I'm not talking to people to help your Daddy, I'm doing it to find the truth.  If your Daddy's involved - my finding out the truth could get him put in jail."

She stared for a long moment.  "You find out the truth."  She granted permission like Queen Isabella giving Columbus the okay to find the New World.  "You talk to my Daddy and you'll know.  He didn't kill that man."

Sheriff Deputy Foster Redus, man about town, especially with the women, is missing and has been missing for some time.  The 'person of interest' in his missing is Thomas David Burrell.  It seems that Redus came to see Burrell just before his disappearance and the meeting turned into a few fists flying.  Was he dead or did he just run away?  According to a couple of his women friends, he wouldn't just run off without one of them, each claiming to be the one he would choose to take along.  His wife, who had filed for divorce papers, stopped the process, apparently believing him to be dead.  And the sheriff is hell bent on blaming Burrell for his disappearance and most likely death, but without a body he had to drop all charges and just make his life as impossible as he possibly could.

Now the solving of the mystery it's up to Reporter E. (Elizabeth) M. Danniher, who's show 'Helping Out', was seen by Burrell's daughter Tamantha and convinced her that she could prove her Daddy's innocence.

I read a lot of books but have to say this one really baffled me.  From the beginning, I had no idea who would cause Redus' disappearance.  It wasn't due to there being no suspects, but because there were so many.  Normally, at least by halfway through a book, I have an idea as to who and why.  Not with this book!  It took me to the end and I must say I was a little surprised.

If you like a good murder mystery, don't miss out on this one.  I'm actually hooked on this series of books and can't wait to read Book 2 Left Hanging.  Author Patricia McLinn does have what it takes to keep my interest in a book.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Crossover Murder: Reality TV Cozy Mysteries 2 - Nikki Haverstock, Author

Strawberry Daiquiri from Captain Morgan

1.25 ounces of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1.75 ounces of Sweet and Sour Mix
3 ounces of frozen strawberries
1 cup of ice 
Blend and garnish cup with sugar

Enjoy responsibly with a favorite book - Nikki :)

Crossover Murder:  Reality TV Cozy Mysteries 2 - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The plan was that we would try another live cast over the Internet of Heather welcoming Texas Shore Cowboys to the area.  Then she'd pass the microphone over to Peppin, the star of the bank and the show, who would announce the private concert the following evening at Priscilla's theater, the Fish.  Peppin would hype up the even, and we would stop the live cast.

Tomorrow, we would also do a quick live cast of the first few minutes of the convert.  Both the live casts would serve to advertise next week's episode.  One of the biggest issues with promoting the show had been a lack of commercials.  How could you advertise upcoming episodes when they weren't even filmed yet?  The best approach so far had been to have a murder on set - then the media did the advertising for you.

The cast of Savv Socialites of Fishcreek Falls, is back and Melissa finds herself solving yet another murder.  The reality show joins temporary forces with the band Texas Shore Cowboys which spices up the story as well as the action.  You'll meet Peppin who is the lead singer of the Cowboys, as well as some of the others in the band, as they come into Fishcreek Falls with their desire to party, fight and have a good time.  You'll also enjoy the sneaky antics of Heather as she does her best to discredit and destroy Melissa.

I read a lot of books and can normally come up with the 'bad guy/gal' at least half way in.  With this Author Nikki Haverstock, it seems that I know who I think it will be but the more I read the more I doubt my choice.  She will take you to the end before giving you full confirmation as to whether you are right or wrong, and that I like in a good mystery.  Oh yeah!  Bubbles is in full character throughout.  If you read Book 1 you'll remember Bubbles as being the 'gassy' dog that Melissa adopted from the shelter.  He will keep you smiling and laughing from beginning to end.

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