Saturday, September 24, 2016

Recipes from "cozies" in the kitchen

Happy Autumn!
I hope you are enjoying cooler weather where you are. Not here yet...promises, promises.

As I mentioned last time, for our September Mystery Book Club meeting, we read cozies that had a food or cooking theme and then were invited to bring something to share from the book we read or another book.

I did bring some cookies from one book that I read this summer. I had made the cookies before so I new they tasted good. While my book had lots of recipes in it that looked good, I decided I would try a few out before I brought them to a pot luck.

Our "leader", Kay brought some books to share and one was a cookbook, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. I borrowed that one and decided to try a few recipes from it also.

And now I am going to share them with you. I think a lot of people read books with recipes but never try them. I won't write out the recipes here, but will tell you where you can find them and how I liked them.

Let's start with dessert first!

Cherry Oatmeal Walnut Cookies from The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

These are vegan, not using any dairy or eggs. The moisture comes from maple syrup and olive oil. Yep, olive oil. I have made them four times now and they are really good. I took them to the book club pot luck and everyone seemed to like them. Don't use the extra virgin olive oil that is green. It has too strong of a flavor for cookies. (I know because I did that the first time around.) Oh and if you are not vegan, throw in a few mini chocolate chips or you could use a non dairy version. Yum.

On to the book I read for our cozies in the kitchen theme.

Blood Orange by Susan Wittig Albert

I made two recipes from this book.

Blood Orange, Avocado, Grape and Spinach Salad: spinach, oranges avocado, grapes, green onions and feta cheese. There is also a Orange Vinaigrette for it made with orange juice, vinegar, garlic, honey, mustard and olive oil. Very delicious.

Tortellini with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce: What's not to like here? It uses frozen tortellini. The sauce is made with butter, green onion, lemon, and basil. Also very good.

I made three recipes from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. This is a fun book. I had seen it advertised when it came out and meant to go the bookstore and take a look. I will be getting my own copy of it. Lots of good recipes in it and some introductions to each section by different authors.


Kinsey Millhone's Famous Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich by Sue Grafton: It is what is says. Bread and butter pickles and peanut butter. I did try it. I was leery. But the two kind of meld together and it is just a good flavor and crunchy. Try it! You'll like it!

Italian Chicken by Brad Meltzer: Baked chicken using Italian salad dressing, mushrooms and parmesan cheese. The parmesan cheese makes a delicious crust on the chicken. Very good.

Charlaine's Very Unsophisticated Supper Dip by Charlaine Harris: Ground chicken or beef, three kinds of beans, Rotel tomatoes, red wine and two unlikely ingredients. Dry ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning. This can be served with chips as a dip or as a "chili". I had it as chili and with chips. lol

There are sections on breakfast, appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, side dishes, desserts and cocktails. Some of the other authors who contributed recipes are Lee Childs, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Diane Mott Davidson, Gillian Flynn, Carolyn Hart, Gigi Pandian, James Patterson, Lisa Unger, Jacqueline Winspear and many, many more. Those are just a few of the authors I have read books by.

It's that time of year to start cooking! Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Death by Didgeridoo

 Found a new cozy series on Good Reads. I had not heard of it, that is.  The Jamie Quinn mystery series by Barbara Venkataraman.

Death by Didgeridoo is the first book in the series. There are currently four.


"Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit."

The story takes place in South Florida, which interested me, since I used to live there. Fun to read familiar highways and towns. This isn't a long book, only 111 pages but is the first in the series of

This is a good quick read cozy. Plenty of ups and downs and surprises. Looks like Adam killed his music teacher. Adam has Asperger's and I felt really bad for him. But wait...maybe he didn't do it. Although this isn't a long book, it kept me on my toes with surprises. Jamie is  a likeable character. This book sets up the characters for the next books. Duke Broussard, her friend and PI makes a good sidekick. If Jamie can keep him on task. There are some humorous parts in the book too. Dare I say a fun murder mystery?

The ending leads into the next book.

Give it a try if you like cozies or like me, like to break up reading "heavy" books with a good cozy.

I received a free copy in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dawn Girl


So I read this book Dawn Girl by Leslie Wolfe. No it is not a spoof on Gone Girl.


Here's what it is about:


Her blue eyes wide open, glossed over. A few specks of sand clung to her long, dark lashes. Her beautiful face, immobile, covered in sparkling flecks of sand. Her lips slightly parted as if to let a last breath escape.

Who is the beautiful girl found at dawn, on a deserted stretch of white sand beach? What is her secret?

FBI Special Agent Tess Winnett searches for answers relentlessly. With each step, each new finding, she uncovers unsettling facts leading to a single possible conclusion: Dawn Girl is not the only victim. Her killer has killed before.

Hiding a terrible secret of her own, Special Agent Tess Winnett faces her inmost fears, in a heart-stopping race to catch a killer who’s getting ready to end yet another life. Will she find the killer in time? Will she be able to stop him? At what cost?

The rules of the game have changed.
So has the textbook definition of a serial killer.

Special Agent Tess Winnett is the bold, direct, and short-fused heroine of Dawn Girl. Putting her life on the line, she doesn’t pull any punches, searching only for the truth, and for the man who takes lives on her watch. Intelligent, resourceful, and uncompromising, Tess will take readers on a memorable, white-knuckled journey in this suspenseful, gripping serial killer thriller."

It IS a "gripping serial killer thriller". The subject matter was a little difficult for me, but it is so fast paced and I really wanted Tess to figure this out, that I couldn't put it down.

Very skillfully written. We are inside Tess's head as she is determined to find who killed Dawn Girl. As the description says, Tess has her own demons which we get glimpses of. She doesn't always follow the rules and irritates her boss and most everyone she works with or for. But you will be rooting for her. She is reluctantly working with a local investigator, Gary Michowsky who seems to have some issues also.

It is really, really good. I could see more books with Tess and Gary.

I hadn't read any other books by Leslie Wolfe. But this is her 6th book. I believe they are stand alones.

Here is a bit about her:

"Bestselling author Leslie Wolfe has an all-consuming passion for writing fiction. Leaving the coveted world of corporate boardrooms for the blissful peace of what she calls "the Wolves’ den," Leslie's novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She is passionate about technology and psychology, and her extensive background and research in these fields empower and add texture to her multi-dimensional, engaging writing style.

She released her first novel, Executive, in October 2011. It was very well received by the public. It was followed thereafter by Devil's Move (2014), The Backup Asset (2015), The Ghost Pattern (2015), Operation Sunset (2016), and Dawn Girl (2016). Her latest novel, Dawn Girl, pushes the traditional boundaries of crime novels, where both villain and hero are not what one expects."

I recommend it!

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Blood Orange by Susan Wittig Albert


For our September Mystery Book Club, we read "cozies in the kitchen" - mysteries that are cozies with a food theme, background etc. and that feature recipes.

I choose my go to cozy series featuring China Bayles, written by Susan Wittig Albert. This is #24 in the series.

"It's mid-April in Pecan Springs, and China is renting her guest cottage to Kelly Kaufman, who needs a temporary place to live as she contends with a very acrimonious divorce from her husband Rich. One nasty point of dispute is her part ownership of the Comanche Creek Brewing Company, which she is refusing to sell.
At the same time, as a nurse employed by a local hospice, Kelly has discovered instances of suspicious practices. Even more disturbing, she suspects that a patient was murdered. Kelly's knowledge could be dangerous, and she wants to get guidance from China on what to do. But on her way to China's house, Kelly is forced off the road and critically injured, putting her in a medically induced coma. Now it's up to China to determine who wanted her out of the picture. Was it her soon-to-be ex? His new lover—who happens to be the sister of China's friend Ruby? Or someone connected with the corruption at the hospice? China owes it to her friend to uncover the truth—but she may be putting her own life at risk... "

A little background: China has left her career as an attorney and moved to the small central Texas town of Pecan Springs. She has an herb shop named Thyme and Seasons. She shares space with her friend Ruby, who has a shop called The Cave. China sells all things herbs; books, herbs, things made with herbs and even does classes. Ruby sells incense, rune stones, tarot cards etc. They also have a Tea Room and a catering business. Whew! China is married to McQuaid, a former homicide detective, now a private investigator and on the faculty at the local University.

What is great about this series, is that you don't have to start at the beginning of the series if you don't want to.  You can pick up any book in the series and read it. The author does a quick background for you at the beginning of each book.

Each book is the name of a plant or herb and they are related to something about the story. Each chapter starts with a history of an herb; some are really interesting excerpts from books from the 1650's for example, some current day. Blood Orange has to do with the color of paint found on the car that Kelly is in, when she is forced off the road.

Since Kelly is targeted on her way to China's, China is compelled to find out what is going on; what did Kelly want to tell her, who was Kelly hiding from and why.  As if that isn't enough, McQuaid is supposedly out on a PI assignment in El Paso. He calls one night and tells China she probably won't hear from him for a few days as there won't be cell phone coverage. China begins to think he is having affair, but then several people in town mention to her about the assignment McQuaid is on with Blackie, ex sheriff, going into Mexico to track down a ring that is stealing oil field equipment. What? Why is he hiding this from her? This sound dangerous. Oh, and Ruby, the one with the store with tarot cards etc.? As the books have gone on, Ruby has developed or recently shared, that she has a gift of premonition. She tells China not to go through the door - but she doesn't know what door, or when "the door" will present itself. This premonition gives the reader the chance to say "No China! Don't do it. Don't you remember what Ruby said?"

So besides the main mystery, there is always some side stories or development of the characters, that keeps the series interesting. The author typically brings in current events that are a thread in the story.  We have craft brewerys, hospice/fraud, illegal sales of drugs to name a few mentioned in this book.

Last but not least, the author always gives us several recipes at the end of the book that are actual recipes you can make easily and taste good. I know I have made some in the past. In this book there are three that look especially good: Orange Rosemary Muffins, Blood Orange Avocado, Grape and Spinach Salad, and Tortellini with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce. I think I will put those on my home menu this month.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Life after Lewis

Well, Inspector Lewis on PBS Masterpiece Mystery is over....
As well as Wallander...
Not to mention Downton Abbey and Selfridge. (not mysteries by good PBS series')


Now what do we have for Fall 2016?

I once again refer you to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

This weekend, Sunday, Sept 4th, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is showing two Gourmet Detective Movies and six Garage Sale Mystery Movies starting at 9 a.m. I have watched all of them and really like them.

LONGMIRE on Netflix 5th and final season begins or becomes available Sept. 23, 2016.

Back to Hallmark coming in October we have:

Death Al Dente: A Gourmet Detective Mystery with Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns, Oct. 9 2016. These are based on a series by Peter King.

The Julius House: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery with Candace Cameron, Oct. 16, 2016. Based on the series by Charlaine Harris.

Murder With Love: A Hailey Dean Mystery with Kelley Martin, Oct. 23, 2016. Based on the series by Nancy Grace. (yep that Nancy Grace)

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